Pack Warning Best Practices

Best Practice for Effective Pack Warnings

  • Hard-hitting
  • Realistic
  • Pre-test
  • Quitline
  • Plain Packaging: The Ideal

Hard-hitting [top]

A large body of evidence shows that the most effective pack warning images are emotive, hard-hitting, and graphically depict the physical damage caused by smoking.

Realistic [top]

Images that depict realistic suffering caused by tobacco use are most effective in promoting cessation. What Does Not Work: Research also shows that cartoons, humor, and overly clever and conceptual images are easily dismissed by smokers. Such indirect messaging and imagery allows smokers to distance themselves from the actual damage caused by smoking.

Pre-test [top]

It is strongly recommended to rigorously pre-test pack warning images in front of target audiences. Sample pack warning pre-testing protocol coming soon.

Quitline [top]

Including a quitline number on warnings provides additional motivation for smokers to quit

Plain Packaging: The Ideal [top]

Plain packaging of tobacco products is stripped of colors, graphics, manufacturers’ trademarks, and other promotional elements that attract consumers and encourage tobacco use. Effective plain packaging legislation dictates that all tobacco packs are a standardized color, shape and size, with the brand name in a prescribed font and location. The only other elements permitted on the pack would be the information required by law: health warnings, manufacturers’ name, product identification code, and tax paid markings. Plain packaging has been shown to: reduce deception and suggestions by color of lighter, milder or safer cigarettes increase the power of health warnings undermine the seductiveness of smoking fight brand-name power support a comprehensive tobacco ad ban restrict point-of-sale marketing Because of its potential to neutralize the power of tobacco marketing, plain and standardized packaging has been identified as a powerful public health strategy by health experts and as a major threat by tobacco manufacturers and their allies. Australia has been the leader in this area—in May 2011 the government released plain-packaging legislation that, if passed, would require cigarettes to be sold in plain, unappealing, olive-brown packs featuring large graphic health warnings, beginning January 2012.