Background: To compare reactions to warning labels presented on cigarette packages with a specific focus on whether the new Chinese warning labels are better than the old labels and international labels.
Methods: Participants aged 18 and over were recruited in two cities of Jiangsu Province in 2008, and 876 face-to-face interviews were completed. Participants were shown six types of warning labels found on cigarette packages. They comprised one old Chinese label, one new label used within the Chinese market, and one Chinese overseas label and three foreign brand labels. Participants were asked about the impact of the warning labels on: their knowledge of harm from smoking, giving cigarettes as a gift, and quitting smoking.
Results: Compared with the old Chinese label, a higher proportion of participants said the new label provided clear information on harm caused by smoking (31.2% vs 18.3%). Participants were less likely to give cigarettes with the new label on the package compared with the old label (25.2% vs 20.8%). These proportions were higher when compared to the international labels. Overall, 26.8% of participants would quit smoking based on information from the old label and 31.5% from the new label. When comparing the Chinese overseas label and other foreign labels to the new Chinese label with regard to providing knowledge of harm warning, impact of quitting smoking and giving cigarettes as a gift, the overseas labels were more effective.
Conclusion: Both the old and the new Chinese warning label are not effective in this target population.