SHORT REPORT
Distribution of new graphic warning labels: Are tobacco companies following regulations?
Nick Wilson 1  
,  
Jo Peace 1
,  
Judy Li 1
,  
Janet Hoek 2
,  
James Stanley 1
,  
 
 
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1
Department of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand
2
Department of Marketing, University of Otago, Dunedin
Publish date: 2009-08-25
 
Tobacco Induced Diseases 2009;5(August):14
KEYWORDS
ABSTRACT
Objective:
To test the hypothesis that tobacco companies would not follow a regulation that required seven new graphic health warnings (GHWs) to be evenly distributed on cigarette packs and that they would distribute fewer packs featuring warnings regarded by smokers as being more disturbing.

Methods:
Cross-sectional survey of purchased packs (n = 168) and street-collected discarded packs (convenience sample of New Zealand cities and towns, n = 1208 packs) with statistical analysis of seven types of new GHWs. A priori warning impact was judged using three criteria, which were tested against data from depth interviews with retailers.

Results:
The GHWs on the purchased packs and street-collected packs both showed a distribution pattern that was generally consistent with the hypothesis ie, there were disproportionately more packs featuring images judged as "least disturbing" and disproportionately fewer of those with warnings judged "more disturbing". The overall patterns were statistically significant, suggesting an unequal frequency of the different warnings for both purchased (p < 0.0001) and street-collected packs (p = 0.035). One of the least disturbing images (of a "corpse with toe-tag") dominated the distribution in both samples. Further analysis of the street-collected packs revealed that this image appeared disproportionately more frequently on manufactured cigarettes made by each of the three largest New Zealand tobacco companies. Although stock clustering could explain the purchase pack result, there were no obvious reasons why the same uneven warning distribution was also evident among the street-collected packs.

Conclusions:
These results suggest that tobacco companies are not following the regulations, which requires even distribution of the seven different GHWs on cigarette packs; further monitoring is required to estimate the extent of this non-compliance. As an immediate measure, governments should strictly enforce all regulations applying to health warnings, particularly given that these are an effective tobacco control intervention that cost tax payers nothing.

 
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CITATIONS (4):
1. Cigarette pack labelling in 12 countries at different levels of economic development
Hassan Mir, Daniel Buchanan, Anna Gilmore, Martin McKee, Salim Yusuf, Clara K Chow
Journal of Public Health Policy
2. Lessons from New Zealand’s introduction of pictorial health warnings on tobacco packaging
Janet Hoek, Nick Wilson, Matthew Allen, Richard Edwards, George Thomson, Judy Li
Bulletin of the World Health Organization
3. Which Images and Features in Graphic Cigarette Warnings Predict Their Perceived Effectiveness? Findings from an Online Survey of Residents in the UK
Linda D. Cameron, Brian Williams
Annals of Behavioral Medicine
4. The impact of Australia’s new graphic cigarette packet warnings on smokers’ beliefs and attitudes
Caroline L. Miller, David J. Hill, Pascale G. Quester, Janet E. Hiller
Australasian Marketing Journal (AMJ)
eISSN:1617-9625