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A recent study aimed to find which features made picture warnings the most effective.

When it comes to the effectiveness of warnings on tobacco products, a picture is worth a thousand words—particularly if that picture features a diseased or damaged body part caused by smoking.

Those types of warnings are the most effective at getting smokers to try to quit, according to a study published this week in the journalTobacco Control. Previous research had shown that picture warnings are more of a deterrent than text-only warnings, like those currently used in the United States.

This most recent study aimed to find which features made picture warnings the most effective, and found that those with damaged or diseased body parts and testimonials encouraged the most people to try and quit smoking.

“Humans act in response to our emotions,” lead author Jazmyne Sutton told The Philadelphia Inquirer. “When we feel a negative emotion—fear, disgust, etc.—we want to avoid the source of that emotion.”

In 118 countries—including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom—governments mandate that tobacco is sold in packaging that features pictures of cancerous growths, surgical holes in throats, amputations, gangrenous feet and other health ailments that can be caused by tobacco use.

“There has been tremendous progress internationally in implementing package health warnings, with many countries increasing warning size, more countries requiring picture warnings, and an increasing number of countries requiring multiple rounds of picture warnings,” wrote the authors of another recent report compiled by Canadian researchers. “The worldwide trend for larger, picture health warnings is growing and unstoppable, with many more countries in the process of developing such requirements.”

Those researchers found that larger warning labels—those that cover at least half of the packaging—are most effective. Timor-Leste, Nepal and Vanuatu had the largest warnings, which covered more than 85% of tobacco packaging.

In the United States, warning label requirements fall well behind many other countries, thanks in part to the still-powerful tobacco lobby. America had the smallest warning labels out of 206 countries reviewed by researchers.

In 2009, Congress passed a law requiring the use of warning labels with photos. However, the implementation of the law has been hindered by a lawsuit from tobacco manufacturers and retailers.

This fall, a court ruling ordered the FDA to speed up the process of implementing photo warnings. Proponents hope that this will help decrease the estimated 480,000 deaths caused by smoking each year, and reduce the number of Americans living with a smoking-related illness, currently estimated to be more than 16 million.

View the original article at thefix.com

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