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Images are more effective than words when it comes to quitting smoking

Stoptober is back for a seventh year, having driven more than a million quit attempts to date. Last year, nearly 400,000 smokers in England quit successfully, which is the equivalent to 1,069 smokers each day. Despite new smokers starting and ex-smokers relapsing, there are now 1 million fewer smokers in England comparing to 2014.

Health warning labels on tobacco products are believed to be the most cost-effective tool for educating smokers and non-smokers about the health risks associated with tobacco use. Theories in social and health psychology have indicated the superiority of using imagery over text-only messages in health communication. Pictorial warnings have been also cited by former smokers as an important factor in their decision to quit.

Indeed, data analysis of the ITC Four Country Survey compared the impact of the introduction of pictorial warnings in Australia in 2005 to that of the introduction of larger text-only warnings in the United Kingdom in 2003. Cognitive indicators of label impact, that are predictive of quit intentions and quit attempts, increased to a bigger extent among smokers after the Australian pictorial warnings were implemented, than they did in the United Kingdom after enhanced text-only warnings were introduced.

Overall, the research on pictorial warnings proves that they are more likely to be noticed than text-only warning labels; more effective for educating and increasing smokers’ thoughts about the risks; and associated with increased motivation to quit smoking. The use of graphic pictures is an important means of replacing positive associations towards smoking with negative ones, which seems to be appropriate given the devastating impact of tobacco products on global health.

At Emotional Logic we understand the importance of images and how these can be used to influence consumer behaviour. Whether the goal is increasing your sales, or promoting healthy life changes, we can help you achieve it - for more information on how to harness the power of images for your brand visit

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