Do Young Adults Perceive That Cigarette Graphic Warnings Provide New Knowledge About the Harms of Smoking?

Ann Behav Med. 2015 Aug;49(4):594-604. doi: 10.1007/s12160-015-9691-6.


Background: Although much research on graphic cigarette warnings has focused on motivational responses, little focus has been given to how much individuals learn from these labels.

Purpose: This study aims to investigate whether graphic warnings provide greater perceived new knowledge of smoking consequences compared to text-only warnings, and to test a mediational model whereby perceived new knowledge promotes discouragement from smoking through its impact on worry.

Methods: In two studies, young adult smokers and nonsmokers (ages 18-25) evaluated graphic + text and corresponding text-only labels on perceived knowledge, worry about the harms addressed by the warning, and discouragement from smoking.

Results: Compared to text-only labels, graphic + text labels were rated as providing better understanding, more new knowledge, and being more worrisome and discouraging. Perceived new knowledge predicted greater discouragement from smoking directly and through worry.

Conclusions: Graphic warnings may be more efficacious than text-based warnings in increasing knowledge and worry about harms, and discouragement from smoking.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Product Labeling*
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Smoking / psychology
  • Tobacco Products / adverse effects*
  • Young Adult