BACKGROUND: Pictorial cigarette pack warnings discourage smoking, but most evidence comes from studies of adults. Our qualitative study explored adolescents' reactions to pictorial warnings on their parents' cigarette packs.
METHODS: We interviewed 24 adolescents whose parents received pictorial warnings on their cigarette packs as part of a randomized clinical trial. We conducted a thematic content analysis of the interview transcripts.
RESULTS: Pictorial cigarette pack warnings led adolescents to imagine the depicted health effects happening to their parents, which elicited negative emotions. The warnings inspired adolescents to initiate conversations with their parents and others about quitting smoking. Adolescents believed the warnings would help smokers quit and prevent youth from starting smoking. Some current smokers said the warnings made them consider quitting.
CONCLUSIONS: Conversations about the pictorial warnings may amplify their effectiveness for smokers, their adolescent children, and friends of the adolescent children. Cigarette pack warnings may reach a broad audience that includes adolescent children of smokers.