March 22 (UPI) -- Health warnings cigarette packs with affect smoking habits better than when those messages are on branded packs, a new study says.
In fact, smokers who bought plain pack cigarette packs were more likely to closely read health warnings listed on them "often" or "very often" compared to people who bought branded packages, according to research published Friday in Addiction Research and Theory.
And after reading those warnings, smokers reported that they thought "somewhat" or "a lot" about the health risks associated with smoking -- suggesting the idea is effective.
The health warnings listed on plain packs were also larger than those on brand packs, which have large pictures on the front and back.
"We found that U.K. smokers currently using standardized packs were more likely, than those who had never used standardized packs, to have noticed and read, or looked closely at, the health warnings; thought about the risks; and thought about quitting due to the look of the pack," Crawford Moodie, a researcher at University of Stirling and study lead author, said in a press release. "They were also more likely to report awareness of a stop-smoking website and cite warnings on packs of cigarettes or rolling tobacco as a source of awareness."
The researchers surveyed more than 1,800 smokers over age 16. About 76 percent of them smoked cigarettes in plain packs, versus 9 percent who used to smoke them but switched to branded and 14 percent who never smoked them.
"Consistent with the broad objectives of standardized packaging, our research found that it was associated with increased warning salience, and thoughts about risks and quitting," Moodie said.
About 14 percent of adults in the U.S. smoke cigarettes, a habit that causes more than 480,000 deaths each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The U.K. is the third country to pass laws requiring cigarettes to be sold in plain packaging. The other two Australia and France.
"This study adds to the growing body of evidence that standardized packaging reduces the appeal of tobacco products," said George Butterworth, senior policy manager at Cancer Research UK.