Comparison of current U.S. and Canadian cigarette pack warnings

Int Q Community Health Educ. 2005;24(1):3-27. doi: 10.2190/9PX0-NBG1-0ALA-G5YH.


Cigarette smoking is the single most preventable cause of death in the United States. From 1985 to date, one of four mandatory cigarette warnings proposed by the Comprehensive Smoking Education Act of 1984 has been displayed on cigarette packages. In addition to cigarette warnings, states like California, Massachusetts, Arizona, Oregon and Maine have implemented "Tobacco Control Programs" (TCP) to reduce the overall number of smokers. However, the decline in the rate of smoking is not occurring fast enough to meet the national health objective by 2010. The present U.S. cigarette warnings are verbal in form and provide information, which is inadequate but appropriate to make it legally adequate. On the other hand, warnings in other countries such as Canada and Brazil are more descriptive and specific and are accompanied by vivid and sometimes gruesome pictures. In the present study, six pictorial Canadian labels and four U.S. verbal labels were analyzed for potential effectiveness among eighty subjects using a survey questionnaire. The survey findings are compared with recent Canadian smoking data. It is concluded that placing pictorial labels on cigarette packages in the U.S. will allow the product to carry warnings that potentially provide better results than current verbal messages and less TCP funds will need to be used.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Health*
  • Audiovisual Aids*
  • Canada
  • Health Promotion*
  • Humans
  • Product Labeling*
  • Smoking Prevention*
  • United States