(Reuters Life!) – Cigarette pack warnings that remind smokers of the fatal consequences of their habit may actually make them smoke more as a way to cope with the inevitability of death, according to researchers.
A small study by psychologists from the United States, Switzerland and Germany showed that warnings unrelated to death, such as “smoking makes you unattractive” or “smoking brings you and the people around you severe damage,” were more effective in changing smokers’ attitudes toward their habit. This was especially the case in people who smoked to boost their self-esteem, such as youth who took up the habit to impress or fit in with their peers and others who thought smoking increased their social value, the researchers said.
“In general, when smokers are faced with death-related anti-smoking messages on cigarette packs, they produce active coping attempts as reflected in their willingness to continue the risky smoking behavior,” the study said. “To succeed with anti-smoking messages on cigarette packs one has to take into account that considering their death may make people smoke.”