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Responses to Graphic Warning Labels among Low-income Smokers

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Objective: Graphic warning labels (GWLs) are effective in communicating tobacco-related harms. Methods: In this mixed-methods study, we used purposive sampling to recruit 100 low-income smokers in the San Francisco Bay Area between October 2017 and February 2018 to participate in an intervention promoting smoke-free homes. We presented the 2009 Food and Drug Administration-proposed GWLs and explored perceptions of affect, efficacy, and appeal using questionnaires at baseline, 3- and 6-months follow-up. Because of participants' interest in this topic, we subsequently conducted a qualitative sub-study among 20 participants exploring perceived efficacy of GWLs on smoking cessation. Results: In all, 87.3% and 59.2% agreed that GWLs were useful and would motivate cessation behaviors, respectively, at baseline. We found that the most common responses were shock (61.8%) and disgust (55.3%), whereas anger (29.0%) and annoyance (19.7%) were less common. Participants also reported that GWLs unequivocally illustrating smoking's harmful effects were more appealing than non-specific images, as were images that depicted positive cessation-related effects. Conclusions: GWLs appear to be an important health communication among low-income smokers. Future studies on GWLs should examine the association of negative affect and cessation among this population.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, CA 2: Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, University of California, San Francisco, CA 3: Assistant Professor, Division of General Internal Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, CA 4: Assistant Professor, Division of General Internal Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, CA;, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: September 1, 2020

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  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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