Chilling pictures on cigarettes cause strange reactions in some smokers
For years there have been several attempts to label cigarettes with labels and pictures that are intended to deter smokers. But without real success. Abroad, pictures are printed on packs of cigarettes that show, for example, patients with lung cancer or lungs damaged by tobacco. Such pictures are extremely repulsive to both smokers and non-smokers. However, this does not prevent many smokers from continuing to use cigarettes.
Actually, dissuasive images of people who have terminal lung cancer should prevent smokers from smoking. These are printed on cigarette packs as a deterrent in numerous countries. However, with little success. In an investigation, American scientists now doubt that such pictures are an effective strategy to reduce smoking. The researchers published the results of their study in the journal Communication Communication.
In some cases, the pictures even promote smoking behavior
Do drastic pictures on cigarette packs make sense to reduce smoking? Researchers from the "University of Illinois" tried to answer this question. In their investigation, the scientists found that such pictures made some smokers feel that their personal freedom had been violated. In a few cases, the pictures even promoted smoking behavior, the experts explain. Large warnings, pictures of diseased parts of the body and pictures of people who died from illnesses caused by smoking are said to reduce smoking rates in some countries. In other countries, cigarettes have been subject to more taxes or other restrictions have been introduced (public smoking ban at train stations and in restaurants). The latter measures have demonstrably contributed to the decline in the number of smokers, the scientists say.
Anti-smoking strategies should better target smokers
We tried to observe what effect the printed images on cigarette boxes had on smokers, the researchers explain. However, it is not always a question of whether these pictures act as a deterrent to smokers and thus some smokers stop consuming cigarettes. It is also important to note what the general reactions to such images are and whether they cause a so-called reactance in some people. Strategies should be developed that do not scare the entire population, but specifically target specific groups that most need our help, Nicole LaVoie of the University of Illinois said in a press release on the study results. For their study, the researchers examined 435 students between the ages of 18 and 25. Of these, 17.5 percent smoked. Half of the smokers and half of the non-smokers were given cigarette packs that were printed with one of seven graphics or only had a printed warning text, the experts say. Subjects were asked to fill out a questionnaire about their personality and how they reacted to the cigarette packaging.
Many smokers react defiantly when someone tries to force their opinion on them
The researchers report that most of the participants showed a negative reaction to the graphic images. Both smokers and non-smokers stated that they saw the packaging as an interference with their free choice. Many felt as if the government was interfering too much with the subjects' lives and trying to manipulate them, the scientists explain. This way of thinking has been most observed in people who have a pronounced psychological aversion. A personality trait that makes them more prone to resist temptation when they feel they are being told what to do, the researchers say. In general, smokers are a group in which this property is often found. If these people see threats to their freedom, they will take a negative attitude, LaVoie says. Thus, the group of people who need the most help and support when trying to stop their addiction could actually be harmed, the doctor adds. (As)