Call to update tobacco warnings

A new study from University of Otago researchers calls for updated warning labels on tobacco packaging to better motivate and support smoking cessation.

The study, published in the peer-reviewed medical journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research, involved 27 participants from Dunedin and Wellington who use roll-your-own tobacco.

University of Otago co-director of the ASPIRE Aotearoa Research Centre in Wellington, Prof Janet Hoek, said while graphic warnings had been effective in highlighting health risks, their impact had diminished over time.

ASPIRE Aotearoa Centre research fellow Lani Teddy said participants often avoided the warnings and rationalised the harms of smoking, indicating a need for more relatable and empathetic messages.

The researchers suggested incorporating themes such as the cost of smoking, addiction stress, and its impact on loved ones could be more motivating and relevant to smokers’ lives.