Australian school student perceptions of effective anti-tobacco health warnings

Drovandi, Aaron, Teague, Peta-ann, Glass, Beverley, and Malau-Aduli, Bunmi (2018) Australian school student perceptions of effective anti-tobacco health warnings. Frontiers in Public Health, 6. 297.

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Background: Recent research posits that anti-tobacco health warnings on cigarette packaging may gradually lose their effectiveness in dissuading adolescents from tobacco products several years after implementation. Health warnings on individual cigarette sticks represent a novel warning medium, and may further educate adolescents on the dangers associated with smoking, and reduce tobacco experimentation amongst this vulnerable population.

Methods: In an online survey of school students in Queensland, Australia, participants were requested to rate (on five-point Likert scales) and comment on the perceived effectiveness of current cigarette packaging warnings, and 12 text warnings on cigarette sticks, in preventing non-smokers from smoking, and encouraging current smokers to quit. The warnings were divided into four themes to establish the most effective types of anti-tobacco messages: mortality statistics, health condition consequences, social and financial consequences, and supportive messages. These themes were based on current anti-tobacco interventions within Australia, and the rising cost of tobacco products, and designed to align with the Health Belief Model.

Results: Participants (N = 150; Age = 15–18) from five schools completed the survey, and generally viewed current packaging warnings as gross and disgusting, and rating them as somewhat effective in preventing non-smokers from smoking. Current warnings were however considered less effective in prompting current smokers to quit with participants describing them as being un-relatable to teenagers, and smokers as having become desensitized to the warnings used. One theme of cigarette-stick warning (mortality statistics) was rated as significantly more effective (p < 0.001) than current cigarette packaging, with an odds ratio (OR) of 2.77 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.67–4.62). Overall, warnings were considered to be 4.71 times (95%CI: 2.72–6.43, p < 0.001) more effective on non-smokers than on smokers. Over three-quarters of participants supported using health warnings on individual cigarette sticks.

Conclusions: Current cigarette packaging warnings have retained some effectiveness in dissuading adolescents from smoking, though novel and thought-provoking text-only warnings on cigarette sticks may serve as an additional intervention in reducing tobacco use. Further research requires identification of the most effective warnings, and the perceptions of a more diverse participant base.

Item ID: 55891
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2296-2565
Keywords: smoking reduction; public health; health behavior; health promotion; adolescent health
Copyright Information: Copyright © 2018 Drovandi, Teague, Glass and Malau-Aduli. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
Funders: Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship, James Cook University (JCU)
Date Deposited: 17 Oct 2018 23:46
FoR Codes: 42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4206 Public health > 420603 Health promotion @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920401 Behaviour and Health @ 100%
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