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December 13, 2019
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‘Minutes of life lost’ counter on cigarettes to help quit smoking

QUEENSLAND, Australia: University researchers have found ‘minutes of life lost’ counter on cigarettes more effective and impactful than packet warnings.

Queensland’s James Cook University research conducted by Aaron Drovandi surveyed more than 2,000 smokers and non-smokers over the effectiveness of current and novel approaches to help people reduce or quit smoking.

He quantified that a significant number of Australians “no longer smoke” while the smokers have not been deterred by current plain packaging or strategies.

However, he found novel warnings about how much cigarettes cost, the effect on family members or a “minutes of life lost” counter on individual cigarettes that showed the minutes disappearing as the cigarette burned to be the most effective.

Smokers had complained of desensitization to the warnings which were introduced in 2010 as part of Australia’s landmark plain-packaging legislation. Most existing smokers rated them a low deterrent.

“The warnings on cigarette packages remained largely unchanged, things like the warning about emphysema or gangrene. They’re certainly graphic, but when you’re exposed to that graphic image over and over again it loses its impact,” Drovandi said.

“It’s simply due to repetitive exposure,” he emphasized while adding, “If you look at a disgusting image it will have an effect, but after you see it many times it won’t have that same effect.”

Latest research found novel warnings on individual cigarettes twice as effective as on packaging, the observation remained the same across a wide range of participants regardless of age, gender and ethnicity.

Smoking rate among adults in Australia has declined by 13% and 12% respectively among men and women between 1995-2016 according to National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2016 published by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.