Introduction: Communicating the health risks of smoking remains a primary objective of tobacco-control policy. Articles 11 and 12 of the World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control establish standards for two important forms of communication: packaging regulations (Article 11), and mass media campaigns (Article 12).
Methods: A narrative review approach was used to identify existing evidence in the areas of package labeling regulations (including health warnings, constituent and emission messages, and prohibitions on misleading information) and communication activities (including mass media campaigns and news media coverage). When available, recent reviews of the literature were used, updated with more recent high-quality studies from published literature.
Results: Implementation of Articles 11 and 12 share several important research priorities: (a) identify existing consumer information needs and gaps, (b) research on the message source to identify effective types of content for health warnings and media campaigns, (c) research on how messages are processed and the extent to which the content and form of messages need to be tailored to different cultural and geographic groups, as well as subgroups within countries, and (d) research to identify the most cost-effective mix and best practices for sustaining health communications over time.
Conclusion: A unifying theme of effective health communication through tobacco packaging and mass media campaigns is the need to provide salient, timely, and engaging reminders of the consequences of tobacco use in ways that motivate and support tobacco users trying to quit and make tobacco use less appealing for those at risk of taking it up.