Figure 6.6.1: 'Not a safe alternative warning' health warning

B. Cigar smoking is not a safe alternative
Image B: Cigar smoking is not a safe alternative: Image of foot with toe tag above text warning (see below).

Text from Figure 6.6.1:
Smoking cigars causes death and disease even if you don't inhale. It increases your risk of heart disease, respiratory diseases and cancers of the mouth, throat and lung. The risk just gets higher if you inhale.
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This warning message is particularly relevant to many cigarillo / little cigar smokers, as the perception that cigarillo / little cigar smoking is a safer alternative than cigarettes is their primary motivation for smoking that particular product. Similarly, this message is seen as relevant and credible to infrequent premium cigar smokers who may have also been of the belief that premium cigar smoking was safer.

It was not seen as relevant or credible to the more frequent premium cigar smokers. This was primarily due to the fact that they did not choose to smoke cigars as an alternative to other products, with their motivations for smoking cigars related to predominantly social and sensory factors.

This warning message could be strengthened by use of an alternative image. The relationship between the image of a dead person and headline was not immediately apparent. This would impact on message understanding as smokers do not spend time looking at the health warnings on packaging. Messages need to be immediately decipherable from images and headline to be understood and comprehended. An image that more immediately represents danger, such as a skull and cross bones may be more effective.

There is opportunity to improve the copy on this message. Phrases such as ’the risk just gets higher if you inhale’ tend to limit relevance rather than increase it. Effectively the message is stating that if you don’t inhale your risk is less, thereby making it less applicable to those who do not inhale. A more effective means of extending the warning to those who do inhale may be to replace the phrase ‘even if you don’t inhale’ with ‘ if you inhale or not’ and to remove the last sentence in its entirety.

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