Smoking is one of the largest public health hazards. In 2000, smoking caused between 41 632 and 46 656 deaths in South Africa. Smoking accounted for 8 – 9% of the deaths in the same year. In South Africa studies on effects of smoking among students are limited. Communication of health risks has largely been done through media campaigns in most countries. Since 2005 South Africa is now legally obligated to protect non-smokers and educate both smokers and non-smokers on the health implications of smoking. Currently, no research has been done on pictorial warning labels among university students in the country
AIM OF STUDY:
The aim of this study was to determine the effectiveness of various pictorial health warnings on desire to quit smoking among students at the University of Pretoria.
A cross sectional observational study using a structured self-administered questionnaire examined a random sample of students (n=448) between 18-55 years old (mean 23.74). A total of eight pictorial health warnings were placed on cigarette packs. The pack design included pictorial warnings without (plain packs) and with brand design elements (branded packs). SAS version 9.1 was used for the data analysis. Pearson product-moment correlation coefficients (r) were used to identify correlates of desire to quit. P-value was set at 0.05.
Exposure to pictorial health warnings enhanced the desire to quit smoking among both smokers 31.14% and non-smokers 68.86%. Females showed a significantly higher intention to quit smoking than males (t=-2.38: Pr> |t| = 0.0180). The branded pack pictorial of oral disease was the most effective in being understandable (20.21%); believable (21.71%); relevant (12.30%); and helping prevent youth from starting smoking (16.85%). Respondents (14.44%) said the branded picture of abortion was effective in making one stop and think, while the plain package with the abortion picture was the most frightening (16.85%). Females showed significantly higher intentions to quit smoking than their male counterparts (t=-2.38; Pr > |t| = 0.0180).
Pictorial health warnings on cigarette packs had an effect on students at the University of Pretoria. The pictorial health warning on oral disease was the most effective among the participants. Further, the pictorial health warnings had a significant effect on desire to quit smoking especially among female students.