Pictures speak louder than words

Washington: According to a recent study, images of diseased body parts and smoking horror stories told by real people would be most influential in getting smokers to stop smoking. At least 120 countries around the world require pictorial warning labels on cigarette packages. For example, gangrene feet or a dead body. But the United States is notably missing from the list. Despite a 2009 Congressional act instructing the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to implement pictorial warning labels, American cigarette packs still contain text-only warnings.

A new court order issued in September 2018 says the FDA must speed up its timeline for the implementation of pictorial warning labels. A new research from the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania aimed to contribute valuable research toward this end. Researchers analyzed more than 300 pictorial warning labels to determine which features most effectively get smokers to quit. They found that the testimonial frameworks and images of diseased body parts were the most effective individual features. Jazmyne Sutton, lead”author of the study, said, “Humans act in response to our emotions. When we feel a negative emotion – like fear, disgust, etc.

We want to avoid the source of that emotion.” As part of the study, to analyze the various features used in pictorial warning labels, the researchers collected more than 300 warning labels from various sources. They used pictorial warning messages on cigarette packs in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom; pictorial warning messages proposed by the FDA that have not been implemented; a set of anti-smoking messages produced by tobacco companies; testimonial pictorial warning messages developed for an experimental study; and pictorial ads used in various local and national campaigns.

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