Evidence of the Effectiveness of Pictorial Health Warnings on Cigarette Packaging in Nepal

Document Type : Progress of Tobacco Control in South-East Asia Region (Special Issue)


1 International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, Singapore.

2 Boston International College, Pokhara University, Chitwan, Nepal.

3 Action Nepal, Kathmandu, Nepal.


Background: Tobacco Control Act of 2010 mandates government to implement at least 75% pictorial health warnings (PHWs) on tobacco packaging that was enforced in 2013. The purpose of the study was to assess the effectiveness of PHWs and its impact to the policy change. Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in 9 cities between September 2014 and March 2015. Direct interviews were made among 2250 randomly selected individuals. The effectiveness of PHWs were measured as perceived: i) scariness; ii) quit motivation iii) convincing youth not to start smoking; iv) encouraging ex-smokers to remain as quitters; v) building public awareness. Logistic regression analysis was used to determine the factors associated with the effectiveness of PHWs. Results: Of the 2250 participants, 29.8% (670) were current smokers, 8.6% (193) were ex-smokers and 97.6% believed that smoking was addictive. PHWs made 83% of the participants scared. Participants believed that PHWs would be effective in motivating smokers to quit (80.2%), in convincing youth not to start smoking (86.8%), in encouraging ex-smokers to remain as quitters (89.1%) and in building public awareness on the dangers of smoking (94%). PHWs made 58% of the current smokers intended to quit smoking and reduced their daily intake of cigarettes from 11 to 5 on average.  Current smokers preferred to purchase loose cigarettes rather than a pack. The covariates significantly associated with the effectiveness of PHWs were current smokers, ex-smokers and addiction. Conclusion: PHWs were found important to motivate smokers to quit smoking, to reduce consumption of cigarettes and to prevent relapse in ex-smokers. Evidence from the study had triggered policy changes which included enlargement of the size of PHW to 90% and the release of a notification to ban selling of loose cigarettes. Thus, the warning messages with pictures are required to be improved and rotated.