Smokers Are Not Scared by Graphic Warning Labels


Researchers have discovered that smokers are not scared by graphic warning labels and thus a different approach to convincing them to quit should be pursued. It appears the only effect those images have is to make smokers feel that their freedoms are being stepped upon.

University of Illinois researchers have conducted a study on the matter and found out that not only do the pictures make people feel infringements upon their liberties, but they also encourage some of them to keep this bad habit.

Labels on cigarette packages have long showcased horrendous images of possible outcomes of smoking for long periods of time, including diseased body parts and people dying. However, in other countries this has worked along with the introduction of severe taxes, regulations and restrictions which in the end have led to a decrease in the number of smokers.

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration has approved back in 2012 of even more graphic labels that are also set to be larger. Unfortunately, this has not come to pass because of several lawsuits that prevented them from becoming a reality.

The newest study on smoking involved 435 undergraduate students, aged from 18 to 25. 17.5 percent of them were smokers. Half of the non-smokers and half of the smokers were presented with cigarette packs featuring either graphic pictures or warning texts. Next, they had to complete a survey regarding their personality and their reaction when they saw the package.

The results published in the Communication Reseach journal showed that most individuals recorded negative reactions upon seeing the images. Both non-smokers and smokers argued that the label was an affront to freedom of choice, thus making reference to the government that is constantly trying to enter their personal lives and manipulate them.

According to Nicole LaVoie, University of Illinois doctoral student, this belief is shared by people who are prone to resisting ideas, especially when they are told what to do by others. This high psychological reluctance is often observed in smokers. LaVoie added that

“If these individuals see things as freedom threats, they are going to be more attracted to perform the threatened behavior. We might actually be doing harm to a group that might need the most help if they’re battling an addiction to smoking.”

As smokers are not scared by graphic warning labels, others methods will be necessary for convincing, not coercing them into thinking their habit is seriously damaging. However, this must be done without any sort of manipulation, since each person must retain their freedom to manage his or her life as they please.

Image Source: Fact Slides