Developing effective health warning labels for cigarette packages

In 2016, all EU member states will start using pictorial warning labels on cigarette packages. This means that cigarette packages will not only contain verbal warnings such as: “smoking kills”, but that this text will be accompanied by a picture of a dead body, for instance. There is quite some debate among scientists on whether these scary warnings are the way to go. While some say that inducing fear motivates smokers to quit, others say that it may even have negative effects, that is, when people are not confident that they can quit. This project aims to answer exactly this question in a field study among smokers. Results from this study will provide evidence on which warning labels are most effective: scary labels, confidence building labels or a combination of both. This will inform policy, as well as theory on the role of fear in health communication.

Research team: Dr. Eline Smit,
Dr. Saar Mollen
Prof. Bas van den Putte
Status: Ongoing
Funding: Amsterdam School of Communication Research / ASCoR