Figure 7.2.1: Rectangular packaging (Packs A and B)
While use of the image only on the front face of the packaging, as shown in pack A was uncomfortable to look at, it was not as easily comprehensible as the combination of warning message and image on pack B. Use of the image only results in the smoker needing to spend longer comprehending the message as they work harder to identify what the image is attempting to show and say. As the image is relatively small on these products, they can be very difficult to decipher as standalone pieces of communication. This is especially so if they are unfamiliar to people, such as an image of an internal organ. While an individual may identify that the image on pack A is of a human body part that is damaged, it is not immediately obvious what the body part is, and therefore what specific health consequence is being shown. Further, while it may be inferred that the lung cancer shown in the image on pack A is from smoking because it is on a tobacco product the image alone does not communicate this, it only says ‘lung cancer’.
In contrast, the warning message and the corresponding graphic on the same face are more easily understood, despite the image being smaller. It clearly identifies the image is lung cancer and that smoking cigars can cause it. The clear message provided by the writing interprets the message for smokers as opposed to them having to do it themselves.
Message impact and understanding would be further increased by making use of the back face that contains the warning message on red background with the explanatory message (pack A), as opposed to just the explanatory message by itself. This is due to, firstly, the larger spacing of the explanatory message on pack B is unlikely to encourage increased readership compared to that used on pack A and is therefore not a necessity. Secondly, the back panel on pack B actually gives smokers a reprieve from the health warning as they must engage with the explanation to be involved in the message. In contrast, the large warning on the red background on pack A is highly noticeable, and clearly states the health warning. This means that the warning message is unable to be avoided regardless of what side of the pack is on show.
Lastly, use of the warning message and graphic on the front (pack B) and warning message on red and explanatory message on the back (pack A) is similar to the style and format of the graphic health warnings on cigarette packs. Given that many cigarillo / little cigar smokers are also cigarette smokers, similar packaging requirements could result in the products being no longer so differentiated by smokers. Effectively, it may assist in both cigarettes and cigarillos / little cigars having the same associations in terms of health consequences.
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