Graphic images on cigarette packs may not deter smokers

Washington : Graphic warning labels with images of diseased lungs or mouth on cigarette packages may not really prompt smokers to kick the butt, a new study has found, reports PTI.

Such graphic images are perceived by many as a threat to their freedom, choice or autonomy, and they respond accordingly, researchers said. “What we found is that most people don’t like these warning labels, whether they are smokers or nonsmokers,” said lead author Nicole LaVoie, doctoral student at University of Illinois.

“It makes them angry, it makes them express negative thoughts about the packaging, that they’re being manipulated,” LaVoie said. “Ultimately, it also makes them think that the source – the government in this case, mandating these labels – is being overly domineering, is being too much in their business,” she said. The strongest response of this kind came from participants who measured high in psychological reactance, a personality trait that makes them more prone to negative and resistant thoughts when they perceive they are being told what to do, she said.

In some cases, this trait can produce something close to a boomerang effect, according to Brian Quick, a professor at University of Illinois.

Numerous studies in other countries have shown smoking decreasing after the implementation of graphic warning labels, LaVoie said.

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