A new study has boosted plans to put picture health warnings on packets of cigarettes sold to Irish smokers from the beginning of February 2013.
All new stock of tobacco products sold in retail outlets here will have to carry the graphic images depicting the harmful effects of smoking. Cigarette packaging presently has only text warnings about the damage to health caused by smoking.
The benefits of pictorial warnings have emerged in the study, which tested the reactions of 200 smokers.
They were asked to rate the effects of packets with both text and pictures.
The packets with pictures had the most impact on people with low literacy levels who tend to have higher smoking rates, the findings in the 'American Journal of Preventive Medicine' revealed.
The pictures had an impact across all groups, leading the authors to conclude that this method of warning was the most cost-effective measure in alerting smokers to the risks of their habit.