Background: In India, 800,000-900,000 people will die annually due to diseases attributable to tobacco. The government of India has taken several measures, including legislation to control tobacco intake. Display of pictorial warnings on tobacco products was one of the legislative measures taken under The Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) enacted in 2003, intended to discourage the consumption of tobacco.
Objectives: 1) To study the factors influencing awareness among tobacco consumers about the pictorial warnings used on tobacco products; 2) To study the impact of the current pictorial warnings on tobacco consumers. Materials and
Methods: A cross sectional study was conducted from January 2011 to June 2011 at Bellary city, Karnataka. Data were collected with pre-tested and pre-designed semi-structured proforma. Univariate and multivariate analyses were condiucted using Epi-info version 3.4.3.
Results: In our study out of 600 subjects 435 (72.5%) had seen the pictorial warnings. Among them 111 (25.5%) had interpreted correctly and 63 (14.5%) had given a thought/ tried to reduce or quit tobacco consumption. Younger age group, better educational status, people from urban area, upper socio economic class, lesser duration (< 5 years) of tobacco usage were found to have significant association with awareness about pictorial warnings on tobacco products. However, the impact of pictures on reducing/quitting tobacco consumption was very low.
Conclusion: Awareness and its impact on tobacco consumption are poor among our study subjects. There is an urgent need for reconsideration for more effective pictorial warnings.