Health-risk warning labels on smokeless tobacco products: are they effective?

Addict Behav. 1990;15(2):115-8. doi: 10.1016/0306-4603(90)90014-o.


This study investigated whether adolescents attend to the health-risk warnings placed on smokeless tobacco products and the impact the warnings have on intentions to use such products. The subjects (86 male and 106 female high school students) viewed illustrations of five consumer products, including a can of oral snuff and a pouch of chewing tobacco displaying one of the three required health warnings or no warning, and then indicated via questionnaire the likelihood that they would use each of the products. Fewer than half of the subjects (43.4%) exposed to the warnings recalled seeing them, and approximately a third of those who saw the warnings (32.2%) recalled the content of the message. Males were significantly better than females (p less than .02) at recalling the content. A series of 2 x 4 (Sex x Warning Label) ANOVAs revealed that the warning labels had no significant effect on subjects' ratings of whether they would use smokeless tobacco in the future. These results question the effectiveness of the warning labels for discouraging adolescent smokeless tobacco use.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Plants, Toxic*
  • Product Labeling / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Risk Factors
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / complications
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / prevention & control*
  • Tobacco*
  • Tobacco, Smokeless*