Graphic images to deter smokers
ITV Network Ltd, 14.10PM BST, 4 Aug 2003
Graphic pictures of cancerous organs may be the most effective way to convince smokers to quit the habit, according to a study.
The investigation was led by experts from the Cancer Research UK Centre for Tobacco Control Research at the University of Strathclyde in Scotland.
Interviews were conducted with 56 focus groups in Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Spain and Sweden.
The groups looked at a variety of warnings including pre-2001 "small" warning and current large "black and white" warnings.
They were also shown a selection of graphic images used on Canadian cigarette packs, including pictures of damaged hearts and lungs.
The results showed it was vital for warnings to be continually "refreshed" to avoid smokers becoming immune to them.
Images are considered to be one of the best methods of renewing warnings.
Elinor Devlin, research officer at the Centre for Tobacco Control Research, said: "This is a careful balancing act - there is a need to grab attention, but we want smokers to then interact with the warnings, not feel victimised.
"Warnings should offer information to smokers so they know all the risks. A smoker then has facts to inform their decision on whether they should consider giving up.
"To maintain the attention-grabbing quality they will need to be updated regularly - otherwise smokers will even tune an image out in due course," she said.
Smokers said they want to see web addresses of support organisations and information from health organisations