Research on pictorial warnings provides strong evidence on the impact of using colour in health warnings. For example, in a study of Canadian smokers, participants felt that the new large health warning messages featuring colour photographs, were a definite improvement over black and white text warnings. 45  Messages with contrasting colours, such as black lettering on a white background are the easiest to read, whereas the legibility of silver or gold text messages is comparatively poor.

Current International Best Practice

At present, all countries that have implemented pictorial warnings have done so using colour. The selection of background colours and contrasting colours for text varies widely. Countries such as Thailand and Australia have used white text on black backgrounds for the main portion of the health warning, with Australia also using white text on a red background for the main “marker” word (e.g., “Warning”).

Laws and Regulations

Brunei Tobacco (Labelling) Regulations 2007
Malaysia Control of Tobacco Product Regulation 2008
Singapore Control of Advertising and Sale of Tobacco (Labelling) Regulations Amendments 2003
Thailand Ministry of Public Health Notification No.11 2006