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Currently showing: Funding longer lives > Health/medicine

05 Jul 13 14:16

Around 6 million people globally are dying of tobacco use each year among which 5 million of them are dying from direct tobacco use and more than 600,000 are non-smokers exposed to second hand smoke. Huge amounts of time, effort and money have been put into various anti-smoking campaigns in order to help smokers beat their smoking addiction. One of the most widely recognizable ones includes the graphic picture warnings on cigarette packs which have proven to deter people from lighting up. Now, anti-smoking campaigns are introducing a new technology in an effort to achieve better and longer lasting effects.

Despite being in a testing phase, talking cigarettes are a reality and they aim to remind smokers of risk. Researchers from Scotland's Stirling University have created cigarette packs which, when opened, play recorded messages urging people to quit. These remind people of potential health risks and include a helpline number for quitting. The recordings specifically site the links between low fertility and smoking and they were successfully tested in women aged 16 to 24. The study is set to continue including more people, both males and females aged 16 and over.

Even though such initiatives are warmly welcomed, reluctance still exists as, according to Ash Scotland anti-smoking charity, the latest research based on young women smokers, did not showed very encouraging results regarding the association between packaging and smoking habits. On the other hand, Cancer research UK, who is funding the Stirling study, sees the future from a more positive point of view and believes that marketing tools coming from the tobacco industry can help smokers quit.

If results from the talking cigarettes project continue to be encouraging, the specific technology will get the green light for production. A few things are quite unclear however like the sample size used so far as well as the potential consumer cost.

Future definitely looks promising however.

Category: Funding longer lives: Health/medicine

Tags: #Smoking.


Rashunda Tramble - 8 Jul 2013, 10:25 a.m.

Has there been any research showing a direct correlation between endeavours such as graphic pics (and talking packs) and a reduction in smoking? Although I applaud any and all efforts to highlight the damaging effects of the habit, I wonder if these actually work. I'd love to hear from someone who saw a nasty photo of black lungs on a pack of cigs and deciding then and there to toss them in the trash.

Aspasia Angelakopoulou - 8 Jul 2013, 11:15 a.m.

I think there has been some evidence that pics led to a better smoking behavior but to be honest I agree with your comment.My personal feeling is that graphic pics have not been that effective so far and I really doubt whether talking cigarettes will make things better.. I certainly believe that technology can achieve much but I am not 100% convinced that these campaigns actually have an important effect. None of my friends have actually stopped or reduced smoking because of these (nasty) pictures. In fact some of them smoke more(!) than they were before.

Rashunda Tramble - 8 Jul 2013, 2:10 p.m.

I can believe it.

When someone is hooked on a drug (whether it be nicotine, alcohol, crack or whatever), they *know* they're damaging their bodies. They *know* that it may probably kill them. That's part of what addiction is about.

Aspasia Angelakopoulou - 8 Jul 2013, 2:23 p.m.

Well, I think that such campaigns aim to remind people of health risks. They aim to "shock" people in some way (if this is not a too strong word to use) by showing them nasty images or actually tell them the risks (so that there is no way a smoker can ignore them as when they open the pack the message will automatically play). I still believe though, that this won't be too strong to keep people away from it...And if you ask me what I think can work, I cannot tell you with great certainty as I am a "never-smoker" but I can give you two examples:
My dad was a great swimmer and a smoker for many years. He tried to quit twice and wasn't successful and then while he was swimming one day he realized that he could not breath properly..he always used to swim for hours and at that moment back then he could not swim for more than 40mins...he then realized that smoking had a really bad effect on him, it created a sense of "fear" to him..since then (and that is for the last 20 years) he has never smoked again..actually he cant even stand the smell of smoke sometimes...Another example comes from a very close friend of mine who actually read one of the most popular anti-smoking books and he has never smoked since then..
So I really believe that what is effective and what not varies from person to person..

Alison McLean - 23 Jul 2013, 2:40 p.m.

There have been some studies looking at the effect of graphics on smoking related behaviour. One study by Borland and colleagues in 2009 looked the impact of graphics on warning salience, thoughts of quitting and forgoing cigarettes. They then looked at how predictive these factors were of actually quitting.
To obtain this information they asked people about how much they noticed the graphics and how much it made them think about quitting, a year later they asked people who had quit. Interesting the theory of behavioural economics suggests that we have two systems that influence behaviour change, one is our automatic system which we use almost subconsciously and the second is our reflective conscious system. This theory would suggest that sub-consciously the graphics may have influence peoples' behaviour but they might not be aware of it and therefore would not report an impact when asked. Interpreting this in a positive light this may mean that the impact on people is greater than found in the study.
The study found that the graphics had a positive impact on quitting intentions but not on quitting success. Other research has suggested that they are effective at reducing relapse rates. Going back to behaviouoral economics, when this theory it has been tested in other areas (such as energy use) results have shown that the use of behavioural economic biases can trigger behaviour change but strategies that utilise both the automatic and reflective system are more effective at obtaining sustained behaviour change.

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