Figure 6.3.1: 'Mouth cancer' health warning


E. Cigar smoking causes mouth cancer
Image E: Image of 'Mouth cancer' health warning with text warning (see below).

Text warning from Figure 6.3.1:
Cigar smoking causes cancers of the tongue, lip and other parts of your mouth. You can get these cancers without inhaling. Treatment can include surgery that may deform your face and neck or leave permanent scars.
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Given that cigar smoke is held in the mouth, the possibility of mouth cancer is seen as highly credible and relevant by premium cigar and cigarillo / little cigar smokers. Some premium cigar smokers admitted to having heard of other cigars smokers developing ulcers in their mouth, making the possibility of cancer even more credible.

A number of cigarillo / little cigar smokers were impacted by the possibility of the deformity that could be caused by a mouth cancer, and particularly that it would be visible to others. In this manner they are similar to cigarette smokers, where having to live with a health effect is seen as a far greater consequence of smoking than the possibility of dying. Living with a health effect that others can see prompts feelings of guilt and embarrassment, at having knowingly caused harm to oneself. It is the possibility of having to live with a deformity that contributes to this being an effective message, rather than any threat of death that their smoking may cause.

While premium cigar smokers found the image relatively credible, cigarillo / little cigar smokers expressed a similar criticism of this image to that found in research with cigarette smokers. For cigarillo / little cigar smokers, the teeth were too clean and white, and were not perceived to be that of a smoker of any tobacco product. Premium cigar smokers, on the other hand, who tended to be of a higher socio economic status were more willing to accept the teeth, given that they themselves tended to be highly conscious of their dental hygiene. In a sense, the image reflected what they themselves believed their teeth to be like, therefore they could accept that it was an image of a cigar smoker.

The copy was seen as straight forward, factual and logical. Stating that it was possible to get these cancers even without inhaling increased relevance to premium cigar smokers, as it demonstrated knowledge of their smoking behaviour.

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