Scientists have proposed printing health warnings on individual cigarettes to encourage smokers to quit.

Their research has found that these warnings are far more effective than those printed on cigarette packets – partly due to the novelty.

The team from James Cook University in Queensland, Australia, questioned more than 2,000 smokers and non-smokers about warning placements.

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The participants of the investigation said messages on individual cigarettes were a far more effective deterrent.

“Improving the quality and volume of information that is out there is vital in ensuring that young people – who are much the target market for cigarette companies – are deterred from smoking, and current smokers are aware of the danger,” said lead author Dr Aaron Drovandi.

Examples of cigarettes with health warnings (EPA/James Cook University)

The researchers discovered that the most effective messages revealed how much money smoking can cost per year – around £6,000 – and the minutes of one’s life that are lost to smoking.

Dr Drovandi explained to local news channel 7News Townsville that while health warnings on cigarette packages can be effective, they have lost their shock value over the years.

“Cigarette packaging warnings which have been in place for quite a few years are still somewhat effective, but they have lost a lot of their effectiveness since they were introduced,” the academic said.

“Cigarette stick warnings, which were novel and provided new information to participants, were seen as much more effective than the packaging warnings.”

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Earlier this year, scientists from the University of Stirling in Scotland carried out a similar study with individual cigarette warnings.

Some 120 smokers generally agreed that health warnings on individual cigarettes “would be off-putting”.

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