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Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 96, Issue 5, pp 353–356 | Cite as

The Potential Effectiveness of Warning Labels on Cigarette Packages

The Perceptions of Young Adult Canadians
  • John J. KovalEmail author
  • Jo-Anne L. Aubut
  • Linda L. Pederson
  • Michelle O’Hegarty
  • Stella S. H. Chan
Article

Abstract

Background

Since 1989 when health warning labels appeared on Canadian cigarette packages, the labels have changed from text only covering less than one quarter of the package to text and graphics covering over half the package. This study examines how Canadians in their 20s feel about the current graphic warning labels and their potential to prevent smoking and encourage quitting.

Methods

Participants between 20 and 24 years of age were part of a 10-year cohort study begun when the group was in Grade 6, with the purpose of examining factors that may affect smoking. Five questions about warning labels were added to the 2002 questionnaire requesting information on perceptions of the labels and their potential impact on smoking behaviours of young adults. One item had been included in previous questionnaires.

Results

32.8% (n=1267) of the respondents were smokers, with males (35.6%) being more likely to smoke than females (30.4%). Current smokers were less likely than experimental/ex-smokers to believe that warning labels with stronger messages would make people their age less likely to smoke. Female current smokers were more likely to think about quitting.

Conclusion

Despite the efforts taken in developing the labels, some young adults are skeptical about their effects. Warning labels may have to be modified to target issues that are relevant to young adults; gender differences are important in this modification. Warning labels can offer an additional component to a comprehensive tobacco control program, in that they provide health information.

MeSH terms

Smoking product labelling statistics 

Résumé

Contexte

C’est en 1989 qu’est entrée en vigueur l’affichage obligatoire des étiquettes d’avertissement de dangers pour la santé sur les paquets de cigarettes vendus au Canada. Des étiquettes d’avertissement qui ne couvraient au départ que moins du quart de la surface du paquet de cigarettes, occupent maintenant plus de la moitié du paquet et sont assorties d’éléments textuels et graphiques. Cette étude vise à déterminer la perception des Canadiens dans la vingtaine à l’égard des éléments graphiques présents sur les étiquettes d’avertissement actuels et de leur efficacité comme mesure préventive du tabagisme et d’incitation à cesser de fumer.

Méthodes

Des personnes de 20 à 24 ans participaient à une étude de cohortes d’une durée de dix ans (qui a débuté alors que le groupe était en sixième année) qui portait sur les facteurs influant sur le tabagisme. On a ajouté au questionnaire de 2002 cinq questions liées aux étiquettes d’avertissement au sujet de la perception des étiquettes et leur effet éventuel sur les habitudes des mineurs au chapitre du tabagisme. Dans le passé, l’un de ces points avait été intégré aux questionnaires.

Résultats

Les fumeurs représentaient 32,8 % (n=1267) des répondants; les hommes (35,6 %) étaient davantage susceptibles de s’adonner au tabagisme que les femmes (30,4 %). Les fumeurs réguliers étaient moins susceptibles que les personnes qui tentaient l’expérience et celles qui ont cessé de fumer de croire que les étiquettes d’avertissement qui présenteraient des messages plus convaincants auraient un effet éventuel sur les habitudes de consommation du tabac des gens de leur âge. Les fumeuses régulières étaient plus susceptibles d’envisager de cesser de fumer.

Conclusion

Malgré les efforts investis dans la conception d’étiquettes, certains jeunes adultes émettent des doutes quant à l’efficacité d’une telle méthode. On faudrait probablement modifier les étiquettes d’avertissement pour mieux cibler les préoccupations des jeunes adultes; au moment de cette modification, on accorderait une place importante aux différences entre la perception des hommes et des femmes. Les étiquettes d’avertissement peuvent constituer un complément à un programme global de lutte contre le tabagisme dans la mesure où elles présentent des renseignements sur la santé.

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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • John J. Koval
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jo-Anne L. Aubut
    • 1
  • Linda L. Pederson
    • 2
  • Michelle O’Hegarty
    • 3
  • Stella S. H. Chan
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Epidemiology & BiostatisticsUniversity of Western OntarioLondonCanada
  2. 2.Research Triangle InstituteAtlantaUSA
  3. 3.Centers for Disease Control and PreventionAtlantaUSA

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