Ineffective pictorial health warnings on tobacco products: lessons learnt from India

Indian J Public Health. 2012 Jan-Mar;56(1):61-4. doi: 10.4103/0019-557X.96978.


Pictorial warnings are effective in promoting smoking cessation as shown by research in the developed countries. This study aims to determine perceptions of Indians about the effectiveness of pictorial health warnings on tobacco packs which existed from May 31, 2009, to December 1, 2011. A cross-sectional survey was undertaken in five states of India with 1897 participants (56% males; 54% tobacco users). More tobacco users expressed that the pictorial warnings are inadequate to convey the health impact of tobacco use when compared with nonusers (71.50% vs. 62.75%; P < 0.001). More illiterates when compared with literates expressed their concern that the current pictorial warnings will not motivate them to quit (61.17% vs. 51.01%; P < 0.001). The new warnings implemented from December 1, 2011, in India are also not field-tested. Field testing and assessment of effectiveness of health warnings should be a mandatory requirement for Parties reporting on Article 11 of Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Policy
  • Health Promotion / methods
  • Humans
  • India
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Product Labeling / methods*
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking Cessation / psychology
  • Smoking Cessation / statistics & numerical data
  • Smoking Prevention*
  • Tobacco*
  • Young Adult