Clear Message

PARIS, September 4, 2013 (AFP) – Big anti-smoking messages on the front of cigarette packets may help deter youngsters tempted by tobacco but have little effect when they are on the back of the pack, research has found. Touching on a subject that has stirred controversy in countries where pro- and anti-tobacco lobbies are fighting over smoking controls, investigators looked at data from a large survey among British teenagers.

More than a thousand 11- to 16-year-olds took part in the survey, which unfolded in two waves, in 2008 and a followup in 2011.

In 2008, cigarette packets sold in Britain had large text warnings on the front and back.

In 2011, these were joined by anti-smoking pictures on the back panel of the pack.

Between two-thirds and three-quarters of respondents in the survey had never smoked.

Between 17 and 22 percent had experimented with cigarettes.

Around one in 10 were already “regular” smokers, defined as smoking at least one cigarette a week.

All were asked if they recalled the text message or the picture, and say which warning was likely to discourage them from smoking.

The most commonly recalled messages were the two types of general warnings on the packet fr