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Graphic cigarette warning labels that show the health consequences of smoking can influence a wide range of racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups, a new study concludes.

The study included more than 3,300 smokers, MedicalXpress reports. Researchers viewed graphic cigarette warnings or text-only warnings, and reported their reactions. The warning labels with pictures had a greater impact compared with the text-only warnings, the findings suggest. This was true regardless of participants’ race, ethnicity, education or income.

“Given their great reach, pictorial health warning labels may be one of the few tobacco control policies that have the potential to reduce communication inequalities across groups,” the researchers write in the journal PLOS ONE. “Policies that establish strong pictorial warning labels on tobacco packaging may be instrumental in reducing the toll of the tobacco epidemic, particularly within vulnerable communities.”

“Interventions that have a positive impact on reducing smoking among the general population have often proven ineffective in reaching disadvantaged groups, worsening tobacco-related health disparities,” researcher Jennifer Cantrell, DrPH, MPA, Assistant Director for Research and Evaluation at Legacy, a national public health foundation devoted to reducing tobacco use in the U.S., noted in a press release. “It’s critical to examine the impact of tobacco policies such as warning labels across demographic groups.”

A study published late last year suggested cigarette labels that display graphic images of the consequences of smoking have a greater impact on smokers who are less educated about health issues, compared with text-only labels.

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