Figure 6.5.1: 'Heart disease' health warning


A. Cigar smoking increases your risk of heart disease
Image A: Image of healthy heart beside damaged heart above text warning (see below for text).

Text from Figure 6.5.1:
Cigar smoke contains the same toxic chemicals found in cigarette smoke. Inhaling cigar smoke increases your risk fo getting heart disease, suffering a heart attack and/or dying from heart disease.
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Premium cigar smokers were less likely to find the warning on heart disease relevant than cigarillo / little cigar smokers. Most premium cigar smokers were relatively educated about various causes of heart disease, either due to their older age or being from a higher socio-economic group and having greater awareness of lifestyle related diseases. This resulted in a reluctance to accept that their smoking behaviour could increase their risk of heart disease by any more than other activities that they were likely to engage in, for example, eating a rich diet or drinking alcohol. This perception was increased by the fact that they were likely to engage in premium cigar smoking relatively infrequently compared to these other activities.

Again, the message had greater credibility and relevance with cigarillo / little cigar smokers particularly those that also smoked cigarettes. This was due to some degree by these smokers being more familiar and accepting of the message from cigarette warnings, so they reacted to the warning in the same way they would with cigarettes. This reaction was typically, ‘yes it may do, but so do lots of other things’.

The image was the weakest part of the message. As seen in previous research among cigarette smokers, smokers tend to react relatively rationally, rather than be shocked by images of organs. This is even the case with images that compare damaged organs to healthy ones. This is due to:
  • lack of familiarity with human organs, healthy or otherwise, results in both damaged and undamaged organs are seen as equally unfamiliar and unpalatable; and
  • increasing imagery of organs, and human body parts used on fictional and non-fictional television shows and on the internet has de-sensitised people to the shock of graphic imagery.

That said, while it does not have the greatest impact, the image communicates the intended message well. It is also understood that testing with cigarette smokers in other research failed to identify a more effective image.

Reactions to the copy were also divided. Premium cigar smokers dismissed it as being irrelevant to themselves. They do not inhale, therefore they are not increasing their risk. If the copy of this warning is to be used on any premium cigar packaging, reference to inhaling cigar smoke would need to be removed from the copy, otherwise the whole warning would be viewed as lacking credibility due to it not being reflective of premium cigar smoking behaviour. However, for cigarillo / little cigar smokers who do inhale, this line served to increase relevance as it was reflective of their smoking behaviour.

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