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January 6, 1989

The Warnings on Cigarette Packages Are Ineffective

Author Affiliations

Medical College of Georgia Augusta

Medical College of Georgia Augusta

JAMA. 1989;261(1):45. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03420010055025

To the Editor. —  Both smokers and non-smokers regularly encounter the Surgeon General's warnings about the health hazards of tobacco. The presence of these warnings has become a basis for tobacco companies' defense in product liability cases. They have argued that because of these health messages, the public is adequately warned about the "alleged" hazards of tobacco use. Yet, at the same time, they contend that smoking does not cause disease.There is growing concern that the Surgeon General's warnings may be ineffective. Recent evidence1,2 has demonstrated that the warnings are often not seen when they appear on magazine advertisements, billboards, and taxi signs. We conducted a pilot study to examine the public's knowledge of the current Surgeon General's warnings on cigarette packages. In particular, we were interested in the level of knowledge that smokers had about the warnings.

Study.—  Using a typical "market survey" format, adults in a