Anti-smoking graphic images and multimedia depictions are most effective at getting teens to abstain from smoking and using tobacco, according to a study of high school students in Pakistan.

The students in the study perceived a picture of oral cavity cancer, videos of a cancer patient using an electronic voice box and a patient on a ventilator to be the most effective anti-smoking messages. Messages about addiction, harming others through passive smoking and impact of smoking on disposable incomes were perceived to be less effective.

“These aids, in the form of health warnings, health promotion campaigns and material in school curricula, may be useful as effective tobacco control modalities in developing countries with young populations,” the study concluded.

1. Zaidi SMA, Bikak AL, Shaheryar A, et al. Perceptions of anti-smoking messages amongst high school students in Pakistan. BMC Public Health 2011; 11: 117 (open access)