Background. The aim of the study was to evaluate in the Italian smokers, the effects of implementation of the law about Pictorial Health Warnings (PHWs) on tobacco products. Methods. A quasi-experimental longitudinal design was conducted between 2016 and 2017. The data were collected before (pre-PHW/Wave 1) and after (post-PHW/Wave 2) the implementation of the law. The adopted questionnaire included impact of advertisement (Label Impact Index, LII), quitting behavior and knowledge of tobacco related diseases.
Results. 455 respondents completed both the Waves. 7.7% of smokers declared to have stopped smoking in Wave 2 and 29% of these declared the PHWs as one of the reasons to quit. The knowledge of tobacco related diseases was significantly (p <0.001) increased from Wave 1 to Wave 2 (58% versus 72%), similarly the LII (mean = 26.9, SD = 16.7 and mean = 40.4, SD = 16.2).
Conclusion. Tobacco addiction is a problem that needs to be addressed from different angles. PHWs confirm their complementary role as a support for smokers along with other strategies such as text warnings and the tobacco quit line of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità (Italian National Institute of Health) reported on the packages. Nonetheless, over the years these measures have been not enough and policy makers should consider more strategies synergistically acting in the fight against tabagism.