Call for ‘Smoking kills’ warnings on every cigarette

Richard Stuart-Turner
Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Printing ‘Smoking kills’ onto every individual cigarette could discourage smokers, according to new research.

Experts from the University of Stirling’s Institute for Social Marketing examined smokers’ perceptions of the warning ‘Smoking kills’ on individual cigarettes, as opposed to the message only appearing on packs, and found that the approach “has the potential to discourage smoking among young people, those starting to smoke, and non-smokers”.

Participants felt that a warning on every individual cigarette would prolong the health message, as it would be visible when taken from a pack, lit, left in an ashtray, and with each draw.

The visibility of the warning to others was perceived as off-putting for some because it was associated with a negative image.

Researchers said that within several female groups the warnings were viewed as depressing, worrying and frightening, with it suggested that people would not feel good smoking cigarettes displaying a warning.

The potential to include warnings on cigarettes is included in the Scottish government’s tobacco-control action plan, ‘Raising Scotland’s tobacco-free generation’, which suggests changes to “colour, composition and/or warning messages on each stick”.

The University of Stirling study, which was funded by Cancer Research UK, canvassed the opinion of 120 smokers, aged 16 and over, in 20 focus groups held in Edinburgh and Glasgow in 2015. Within every group participants felt that warnings on individual cigarettes would potentially have an impact on themselves or others.

“The consensus was that individual cigarettes emblazoned with warnings would be off-putting for young people, those starting to smoke, and non-smokers,” said Crawford Moodie, who led the study.

“This study suggests that the introduction of such warnings could impact the decision-making of these groups. It shows that this approach is a viable policy option and one which would – for the first time – extend health messaging to the consumption experience.”

Mike Ridgway, director of the Consumer Packaging Manufacturers Alliance, told PrintWeek he felt that introducing such measures would be an “unnecessary and unproven step of further regulation”.

“There’s no evidence at all that people start looking at cigarettes before they put them in their mouth. It’s just an additional regulation along a whole series of those that are being suggested at the moment about making it more difficult for the smoker,” he said.

Cigarette papers and filters are printed gravure on specialised equipment that can handle the lightweight stocks required for these products.

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