Tob Control 24:e3-e5 doi:10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2013-051238
  • Brief report

No place to hide: two pilot studies assessing the effectiveness of adding a health warning to the cigarette stick

  1. Edward Shiu
  1. Bangor Business School, Bangor University, Bangor, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Louise M Hassan, Bangor Business School, Bangor University, Bangor LL57 2DG, UK; l.hassan{at}
  • Received 18 July 2013
  • Accepted 19 November 2013
  • Published Online First 13 December 2013


Objective To examine whether health warnings printed onto the cigarette stick would increase intentions to quit.

Methods Two experiments with smokers were conducted. The first study was conducted in Scotland on 88 adult (aged 18 or over) smokers recruited around two university campuses. The second study was conducted on 120 adult (aged 16 or over) smokers recruited around inner city cafes in Greece. Study 1 tested smokers’ ratings of the attractiveness of cigarettes printed with either ‘minutes of life lost’ (minute condition) or ‘toxic constituents’ (toxic condition) against a control cigarette as well as the change in participants’ pre-exposure and postexposure quitting intentions. Study 2 only assessed the effect of the minute condition on smokers’ change in quitting intentions. Analysis of variance and paired-samples t tests were undertaken. Participants in Study 1 were shown a picture of the stimuli, with participants in Study 2 given the actual cigarette to hold.

Results The analyses revealed increases in quitting intentions postexposure for the minute condition (mean paired difference=0.68, p<0.001) and the toxic condition (mean paired difference=0.23, p<0.05) in Study 1. Similar findings were found for the minute condition (mean paired difference=0.38, p<0.001) in Study 2.

Conclusions These results suggest that printing a public health warning on the cigarette stick may result in higher intentions to quit smoking. However, many other messages (eg, benefits of quitting, harmful effects of secondhand smoke) which can be printed on the cigarette stick have not been tested in the current studies.

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