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Potential Effectiveness of Graphic Warning Labels

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christina stewart

on 10 April 2013

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Transcript of Potential Effectiveness of Graphic Warning Labels

Potential Effectiveness of Graphic Warning Labels Current Alcohol Warning Label This federally mandated label must follow strict guidelines in terms of how and where it must be placed on alcohol containers. It was issued by the government in 1988 by the Alcohol Beverage Labeling Act. Current Cigarette Warning Label Although these labels are smaller than the current alcohol warning label each different label gives an example of possible side effects that can come from smoking, unlike the alcohol label that just says "may cause health problems". But its small size and black font can often allow it to go unnoticed on a carton of cigarettes. These labels are not presented together on a carton but instead rotated and displayed on various cartons. Since these labels do only display text-warnings it may be harder for the consumer to create a connection of the side effect. Since the court ruled against the production of current labels are these same statistics going to keep occurring annually with the use of the current warning label? This next video gives an overview of the court case of why these graphic labels proposed by the FDA were shut down. The court ruled in favor of the tobacco companies reasoning that there is a difference between information and advocacy, and a gets to a point that crosses constitutional the line. Every day almost 30 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes that involve alcohol-impaired driver. There are approximately 80,000 deaths attributed to excessive alcohol use each year. In the United States smoking causes 443,000 deaths per year. On average smokers die 13 to 14 years earlier than nonsmokers. BIG IDEA How are graphic warning labels
more effective than the current
text-only labels? Stated in the video by CBS news 43 other countries have adopted these labels and seen a great improvement directly related to these labels. So why doesn't the United States produce these graphic labels? According to my survey results 80% of the respondents said that they would pay more attention to a graphic warning label that showed graphics of the side effects. Potential Graphic Label This label uses graphics emphasizing side effects of alcohol by showing a graphic image of a healthy liver and what a liver can look like after excessive alcohol use. This label not only focuses on the consumers physical health but also how alcohol impairs mental health, which is a major lacking point of the current warning label. This label gives a vague description of the side effects of alcohol, only actually defining two side effects, birth defects and impairment of driving. While all the other side effects that can be caused from alcohol consumption are left out of the label. The label generalizes this information by saying "may cause health problems", but gives the consumer no information about the different side effects, potentially leaving the consumer completely unaware of what they are putting in their body. In Michael Kalsher, Steven Clark, and Michael Wogalter's article "Communication of Alcohol Facts and Hazards by a Warning Poster" they state, "the current alcohol warning label lacks conspicuity as it is often in-distinguishable from other information(e.g., ingredients) on the label" (79). Aside from what information is actually textually provided in the label scholars have argued about the noticeably of labels and what effect that has had on their effectiveness. In a study done by Kenneth R. Laughery et al., that measured the noticeability of warning labels on alcohol containers and what factors could be added to make them more noticeable, they concluded "pictorials, color, and signal icons can increase the noticeability of warning information. The effects of these three salience manipulations is even more pronounced when they are used in combination" (48). This study places a valuable argument for graphic labels, proving that with use of more then just text the warning labels can become more noticeable, in turn creating a more effective label because the consumers will actually take notice of the warning. Survey Results 87.5 % of respondents said that if this graphic label was on alcohol containers they would more likely pay attention to its information. When asked what advantages were seen with the use of this graphic label compared to the current labels responses varied from: "Hard to ignore", "images stimulate the mind more so than words at a glance", "no one takes the time to read the surgeon general label", "makes it seem more 'real'", and "clearly shows the side effects. Pictures more noticeable than words." Introduction Researching the topic of warning labels, dealing specifically with alcohol and tobacco, I realized that these pre-approved warnings are vague and do not fully convey the side effects that come along with these products. This presentation is a culmination of research of how I found graphic labels to be more effective than the current warning labels on alcohol and cigarette packaging. This presentation incorporates text, graphics, and video to help translate my research findings and to give background on the topic. Combining my own research with the research previously done by scholars I was able to create a project that showed how the use of graphic labels could be more effective in terms of conveying the warnings to the consumer than the current text-only labels. 93.8% of respondents answered yes when asked if this graphic label conceptualized the side effects of smoking better than the current cigarette label . When asked what advantages were seen if this label was used and given the choices of clearer information about the side effects, more noticeable, no difference, or more shock value, 37.5% said clearer information about side effects, 81.3% said more noticeable, 0% said no difference, and 93.8% said more shock value. Survey Results These survey results are very substantial in answering my research question by providing evidence that this graphic label for cigarette cartons does a better job of conceptualizing the side effects of smoking to the consumer, enhancing the effectiveness of the label in terms of consumer knowledge. These results also provide evidence towards graphic labels being more effective because the results show that this graphic label is more noticeable, provides clearer information about the side effects, and has a greater shock value than the current label, therefore allowing it to go less unnoticed and its information conveyed to the consumer in comparison to the current label. Kenneth Laughery et al. states "the quality or efficacy of a warning's content is irrelevant if the warning is never noticed or read" (38). "Research has identified the basic principles for enhancing the effectiveness of tobacco warning labels: color pictures or graphics, positing on the front of packs, increases in size, and direct unambiguous messages all increase the likelihood that smokers will notice warning labels" (D. Hammond et al. 391). This next video also provides evidence that the use of graphic warning labels has a significant effect in increasing the effectiveness of the warning labels on cigarette cartons. The results presented in this video shows that in America a change of warning labels would be beneficial and more effective in either getting smokers to stop smoking or preventing teens from starting smoking, based on the results from the other countries who now use this type of label. Background In September 2012 the FDA had planned to issue their graphic cigarette warning labels that would be required to cover 50% of the cartons packaging and display graphic images of the side effects. Until the court over ruled their plan, preventing the labels from being produced. The court ruled that these labels would go against Tobacco Companies first amendment rights. This video gives background on the FDA's desired plan. In a study done by R. Borland et al., they compared the short-term impact of new graphic Australian and Canadian warnings with the United Kingdoms larger text-based warnings. Their results showed that both the Australian and Canadian warnings compared to the UK's showed an increase in salience(reading and noticing), cognitive reactions (thoughts of harm and quitting), and behavior responses(forgoing cigarettes and avoiding the warnings). Research done by Debra Scammon, Robert Mayer, and Ken Smith led them to the conclusion that "Existing warnings labels achieved a relatively high level of awareness, but did not influence the knowledge of risks attributable to alcohol (e.g traffic fatalities)" (58). This research shows the gap or lacking point of the current labels in their inability to communicate the side effects that can be directly linked to alcohol use. Which could be illustrated through a simple graphic . "The rational for the potentially greater effectiveness of graphic warnings over text-only, is that they provide more information (a picture tells a thousand words) including the evoking of emotional responses to the images, and that together this is more likely to stimulate concerns" (Borland et al. 358). In Jennifer Argo and Kelley Main's article "Meta-Analysis of the Effectiveness of Warning Labels." They research the different elements that could act as potential moderators that are related to a warning. They researched the aspects of vivid-enhancing characteristics, warning location, familiarity, age, product type, and cost of compliance. Through meta-analysis Argo and Main were able to determine the effectiveness of warnings across five dimensions; attention, reading and comprehension, recall, judgements, and behavioral compliance. Their results showed that "The presence of vividness-enhancing characteristics in warnings is more likely than the absences of the characteristics to attract consumers' attention" (Argo and Main 202). "Beltramini [1988] found that labels noting specific risk outcomes (e.g., lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema, fetal injury, premature birth) were significantly more believable than those labels suggesting remedial action (e.g., quitting smoking) or harmful contents (e.g., carbon monoxide)" (J. Craig Andrews, Richard Netemeyer, and Srinivas Durvasula 4). In the CBS news video Jeremy Kees states that a main way the graphic labels achieve their effectiveness is through their "ability to evoke emotion of negative affect, primarily fear". This can be confirmed through a study done by R. Borland et al. that compared graphic labels to text-only labels and concluded from their results that graphic warning labels "produce greater levels of emotionally charged reactions" (363). Potential Graphic Cigarette Label Or could the use of graphic labels decrease the numbers and save lives. This presentation provides research that concludes graphic warning labels as being more noticeable, more informative, and easier to process, which would increase their effectiveness. An increase in a warning labels effectiveness would mean giving more information of side effects to the consumer in a way that wouldn't be over looked and ignored. As a final answer to my research project and contribution for further discussion I hope this serves as a counterargument to the courts decision, even though the graphic labels may be seen as taking away the companies first amendment rights, the goal of these labels is not to take away rights, but decrease the number of tragedies directly linked to these products and promote a better health of the nation. Although this statement does not directly include information about the use of graphic labels, it correlates to how graphic labels would be more effective by giving credibility to effect including specific risks in the label would have. In both examples I give of graphic labels for cigarette and alcohol products, they show images that relate to specific side effects that can come from the products, not just generalizations. If warning labels were to include these graphics including specific risk outcomes, as stated by Beltramini, consumers would be more likely to believe what the label was warning them of, increasing the labels effectiveness. What would also make this label more effective over the current label is its utilization of size and color. Compared to the current label, which only has a small black font and clear background, this label uses size and color to its advantage. Using bold fonts, a white background, and color pictures this label would be hard to miss. With the combination of all these elements the label is designed to engage the consumers attention, so they are aware of the warnings presented. Instead of the generic surgeon general warning this type of graphic warning label actually shows the consumer what can happen to them with the use of this product. Instead of just the plain black and white label this label incorporates color making the image stand out and get attention for its message. What also sets this label apart is the number for a smoking quit line, giving the consumer a direct outlet for help.
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