Graphic images on cigarette packs won’t stop smokers from lighting up

Smokers and non-smokers agree that they don’t like graphic images on cigarette packs, but they also think that the pictures still won’t keep them away from lighting up a cigarette.

University of Illinois researchers have discovered that the pictures made people feel as if their freedoms have been infringed on, and in some cases boosted people's smoking habit.

Big warnings, pictures of diseased body parts, and images of people losing lives from smoking-related diseases have reduced smoking rates in nations where they've been placed on cigarette wrappers.

A number of regulations in other nations were coupled with fresh taxes or restrictions, which, as per the researchers, could also have resulted in a fall in cigarette smoking.

In 2012, the US Food and Drug Administration passed larger, more graphic warnings for cigarettes, but they weren’t used due to lawsuits preventing the government requirement from becoming effective.

In a press release, Nicole LaVoie, a doctoral student at the University of Illinois, said, “We always measure and look at the intended effects, like encouraging people to quit smoking, but sometimes we don't remember to look at what else these messages are doing that we're not thinking about, like causing reactance”.

LaVoie added that their goal is to ponder over what can be done and what messages they can come up with that are effective for everybody, but it also focuses on the groups that need utmost help.

For the study, which appeared in the journal Communication Research, the researchers involved 435 undergraduate college students belonging to the age group of 18 to 25 years. About 17.5% of them were current smokers.

The researchers gave cigarette packs to half of the smokers and remaining to the non-smokers. The packs either carried one of seven graphic pictures on them or just the text-based packaging normally in use. The participants were told to fill out a questionnaire regarding their personality and reaction to the package. They reported that most participants come up with a negative reaction to the graphic pictures.