Death warnings on packets provoke smokers to puff more

Updated: Dec 10, 2009, 00:00 AM IST

Washington: Advising against the use of
death warnings on cigarette packs, an international team of
scientists has claimed that these anti-smoking messages
actually provoke the smokers to puff more as a way to cope
with the inevitability of death.

According to the study by psychologists from the United
States, Switzerland and Germany, "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".

They found 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, Journal of
Experimental Social Psychology reported.

"On the one hand, death-related warnings were not
effective and even ironically caused more positive smoking
attitudes among smokers who based their self-esteem on
smoking," the researchers said.

They said, "On the other hand, warning messages that
were unrelated to death effectively reduced smoking attitudes
the more recipients based their self-esteem on smoking."

In the study, the participants, aged between 17 and 41,
filled in a questionnaire to determine how much their smoking
was based on self-esteem and were shown cigarette packs with
different warnings on them.