Week 7-8 Concept 3

After narrowing my topic to solutions for smoking, I searched for more information online and found some scary graphic cigarette packages, which I thought were powerful to reduce smoking. This caught my interest and I started to dig in. and studies have showed the effectiveness but there is actually no direct evidence in the real world, like directly reducing sales. People in tobacco industries also protested against graphic warnings because graphic warnings did affect their benefits. I also asked my friends in China where graphic warnings are not required on cigarettes and they told me that they were really shocked and would consider reducing smoking. Therefore, I thought it was meaningful to show people the power of graphic warnings and consider how pictures may play an important role and even trigger some debates in the society.


Graphic warnings on cigarettes


Cigarette packages in China

Then I started to collect more information about graphic warnings and I thought it would be more credible if I could find some data like sales going down due to the implementation of graphic warnings. Unfortunately, I could not find such data so I focused on reading study reports and surveys to select some useful information to build a story. I also learned a kind of cigarettes package called plain package, which is basically a more strict version of graphic warning. It would be necessary to set a context to show audiences what is graphic warning labels and plain package. This would be the first part of my design.

What is graphic warning label?

Graphic warning labels pair gruesome images with warnings about the dangers of smoking, covering anywhere from 30 to 80 percent of cigarette pack “faces” (the front and back). The goals of such labels are informing consumers about the risks of smoking, encouraging quitting among smokers, and preventing others from ever starting.

Source:Graphic Warning Labels on Cigarettes Are Scary, but Do They Work?

What is Plain tobacco packaging?

Plain tobacco packaging, also known as generic, standardized or homogeneous packaging, refers to packaging that requires the removal of all branding (colors, imagery, corporate logos and trademarks), permitting manufacturers to print only the brand name in a mandated size, font and place on the pack, in addition to the health warnings and any other legally mandated information such as toxic constituents and tax-paid stamps. The appearance of all tobacco packs is standardized, including the color of the pack.

Source: Plain tobacco packaging

A report focused on cigarette package health warning international status conducted by Canadian cancer provided me with a lot of useful information.


In the first part of my design, I was going to visualize these data to help audience understand the context and learn some knowledge about graphic warnings.

At the second part, I planed to present two opinions about the effectiveness of graphic warnings and I collected information in both aspects.



Only indirect evidence of plain packaging’s effectiveness was available until its release in Australia. On 24 May 2011, Cancer Council Australia released a review of the evidence supporting the introduction of plain packaging to reduce youth uptake.The review had been conducted by Quit Victoria and Cancer Council Victoria. The review includes 24 peer-reviewed studies conducted over two decades, suggesting that packaging plays an important role in encouraging young people to try cigarettes.First impressions in Australia indicated that smokers feel that cigarettes taste worse in plain packaging – an unexpected side effect. In addition, evidence from quantitative studies, qualitative research and the internal documents of the tobacco industry consistently identify packaging as an important part of tobacco promotion.
Studies comparing existing branded cigarette packs with plain cardboard packs bearing the name and number of cigarettes in small standard font, found plain packs to be significantly less attractive.Additionally, research in which young adults were instructed to use plain cigarette packs and subsequently asked about their feelings towards them confirmed findings that plain packaging increased negative perceptions and feelings about the pack and about smoking. Plain packs also increased behaviours such as hiding or covering the pack, smoking less around others, going without cigarettes and increased thinking about quitting . Almost half of the participants reported that plain packs had either increased the above behaviours or reduced consumption. Auction experiments indicated that a likely outcome of plain packaging would be to drive down demand of tobacco products.
Advertisement companies and consultants for the tobacco industry expressed concerns that plain cigarette packaging may establish a precedent for application in other industries. In 2012, correspondence between Mars, Incorporated and the UK Department of Health conveyed concerns that plain packaging could be extended to the food and beverage industry.

Source: Plain tobacco packaging


Results showed that smokers who had the warning labels with the graphic labels were more likely than those who received only text warnings to report that the packaging made them feel worse about smoking. They were also more likely to read or look closely at the information on the warning labels and they better remembered what was on the labels.

Smokers who had the graphic labels also saw the warnings as more credible.

Smokers who viewed the graphic labels were also slightly more likely to say they intended to quit smoking.

Source: The role of theory-driven graphic warning labels in motivation to quit: a qualitative study on perceptions from low-income, urban smokers


such images prompt activity in areas of the brain associated with decision-making, emotion and memory.

Co-lead study author Adam Green, PhD, of the Department of Psychology at Georgetown, explains that the amygdala responds to stimuli that are emotionally powerful, especially fear and disgust, which are emotions that often influence decision-making.

Source: Graphic Warning Labels Elicit Affective and Thoughtful Responses from Smokers: Results of a Randomized Clinical Trial



Source: Cigarette package health warning international status report 2016



A study commissioned by Philip Morris International indicated that plain packaging would shift consumer preferences away from premium towards cheaper brands.

The tobacco industry also expressed concern that plain packaging would increase the sales of counterfeit cigarettes. Roy Ramm, former commander of Specialist Operations at New Scotland Yard and founding member of The Common Sense Alliance, a think tank supported by British American Tobacco, stated that it would be “disastrous if the government, by introducing plain-packaging legislation,  the simplest mechanism for the ordinary consumer to tell whether their cigarettes are counterfeit or not.”

Arguments against plain packaging include its effect on smuggling, its effect on shops and retailers, and its possible illegality. A study published in July 2014 by the British Medical Journal has refuted those claims.

Source: Plain tobacco packaging


Lastly, a younger woman (aged 39 years) was not motivated by the labels because she had no desire to quit. She expressed a somewhat fatalistic attitude as well as low perceived risk from smoking, describing doubts that smoking would kill her and, if it does, “so be it”. She was initially somewhat motivated by label #11 because it showed quitting as a family activity, but then became distrustful of the characters’ credibility. Overall, she was accepting of her decision to smoke and what it might lead to: “Because I’m at the point in my life that I’m going to do what I want to do, and I already know what I’m doing to myself and I got to live with that. That’s the truth I decide in me. That’s the truth I got to live with”. This quote illustrates the limited impact that labels may have on smokers with little desire to quit.

Source: The role of theory-driven graphic warning labels in motivation to quit: a qualitative study on perceptions from low-income, urban smokers


Obviously, there were too much information and I needed to select and simplify these massive texts.

In the third part, I was going to show cigarette packages from different countries who are the world leaders in terms of size of graphic warnings on cigarette package. These pictures are really scary and therefore are powerful. I collect these picture mostly from a website called Tobacco labelling resource center.


Now I have all the data and information I need for my design and in the next week I will start to design the interface.




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