Differences in visual fixation duration according to the position of graphic health warning labels: An eye-tracking approach
Ji-eun Hwang 1,  
Yu-seon Yang 2,  
Yu-mi Oh 2,  
Joung-eun Lee 2,  
Sung-il Cho 1, 4  
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Department of Public Health Science, Graduate School of Public Health
Korea Health Promotion Institute, Seoul, Republic of Korea
Gyeonggi Infectious Disease Control Center, Seongnam, Republic of Korea
Institute of Health and Environment, Seoul National University, Seoul, Republic of Korea
Publish date: 2018-09-04
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(September):39
The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) recommends that graphic health warning labels (GHWLs) be positioned at the top of the principal area of cigarette packs, rather than at the bottom, to increase visibility. However, during the legislative process of introducing GHWLs in South Korea, the position of GHWLs has become a contested issue. The protobacco industry group argued that the warnings should be placed at the bottom of cigarette packs because evidence for the effectiveness of the upper position was insufficient. Therefore, this study investigated whether the position of the GHWL affects eye movement.

Participants (30 daily smokers and 24 non-smokers) were shown six cigarette packs in random order with different position combinations (top, middle, bottom) and image concepts (skin aging, toxic constituents). Participants’ eye movements were recorded using eye-tracking equipment to measure visual fixation duration in milliseconds (ms).

Participants visually fixated longer on the health warning area than on the tobacco branding area (p<0.05). Mean fixation duration on the health warning area was significantly longer at the top or middle positions compared to the bottom, by 28% (mean difference=340 ms, p=0.006) and by 30% (mean difference=368 ms, p=0.002), respectively. By contrast, mean fixation duration on the branding area was longer with the warning at the bottom compared to top or middle positions by 25% and 33%, with mean differences of 157 ms (p=0.100) and 212 ms (p=0.026), respectively. No significant difference in fixation time was observed between the top and middle positions (p>0.05).

The duration of visual fixation on GHWLs was longer when they were displayed at the top and middle, rather than at the bottom. Therefore, GHWLs should be positioned from the top to the middle of the tobacco package.

Sung-il Cho   
Department of Public Health Science, Graduate School of Public Health, Seoul National University, Seoul, Republic of Korea
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