Those Graphic New Cigarette Labels Won't Help, Psychology Says

By Valerie Ross | June 24, 2011 4:00 pm

What’s the News: Starting in September 2012, the FDA will require every pack of cigarettes sold in the US to be emblazoned with a large, text-and-image health warning, similar to the labels already seen in Canada, the United Kingdom, Brazil, and several other countries. The FDA unveiled the nine label designs earlier this week; several are quite graphic, including photos of cancerous lungs and lips and a man exhaling smoke through his tracheotomy hole.

These graphic images, however, may not be an effective way to get smokers to quit, or deter new smokers from starting. Several neuroscience and psychology studies show that these fear tactics have little effect—and may at times do more harm than good.

What’s the Research:

  • In a 2006 study, smokers looked at cigarette warning labels from various countries as they lay in an MRI scanner, which measures blood flow in the brain. Brain regions associated with fear and alarm stayed relatively quiet. But the nucleus accumbens—an area associated with cravings, and a key player in the body’s reward system—showed lots of activation. These warning labels weren’t scaring smokers, the results suggest; the images were, strangely enough, making them crave a cigarette.
  • Health warnings in particular—rather than warnings that smoking makes you unattractive, for instance—can make some smokers feel better about the habit, not worse, one study shows. Psychologist Art Markman describes the study, and the psychological theories behind it, in full over at Huffington Post. The gist of it is that people’s self-esteem takes a big hit when they’re confronted by their mortality (e.g., a smoker faced with the fact that smoking could kill them). When smokers who strongly identify as such (as opposed to people who don’t view smoking as an important part of who they are) see the warnings, they boost their self-esteem by reinforcing views that are important to them: in this case, that smoking is a positive thing. Being told smoking will kill them paradoxically makes them like smoking more.
  • In the same vein, another study found that heavy smokers inhale more deeply when faced with these warnings.
  • Behavioral psychologist Carol Tavris summed up the field this way, to Sara Reardon at ScienceInsider: “Social psychologists have decades of research showing that fear communications generally backfire, that people tune them out, and therefore that these tactics are generally not effective.”
  • The FDA did its own research on the topic, as well. The agency asked 18,000 people to look at 36 possible images for the labels and measured, among other things, which images people tended to remember, whether smokers said an image made them want to quit, and whether non-smokers said an image made them never want to start. One thing the study didn’t look at, Reardon points out, is actual behavior: whether people really quit or were deterred as a result of seeing the labels.

Image: FDA

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, Mind & Brain
  • Wendy

    We’ve had these labels in Canada for years and years and years now, for as long as I can remember. I’ve never heard of a single smoker looking at one and saying “Oh, smoking is BAD for you?? THIS is what it does?? Jeez, I better quit.” Smokers are aware of the risks already.

    On the other hand, as an ex-smoker, I am 100% in favour of any and every measure we can think of, to lessen the number of smokers in society (until, ideally, there are NONE.) FUCK “smoker’s rights”!!!

  • Alex

    It depends on the message being depicted in the label. I’m actually skeptical of this article’s position because several studies into Canadian smoking labels specifically show a change in behavior.
    O’Hegarty et al. (2007), for example, found that the graphic labels were more visible and more moving than text-only. They surmised that the U.S. should follow suit.
    Peters et al (2007) supported this theory as well, saying that despite potential for defensiveness on behalf of smokers, the numbers suggest that after introduction of graphic labels, support for the labels among both smokers and non-smokers increased.
    Stark et al. (Jan 2008) further support this theory and in their discussion, cite several articles that allege that fear-based advertisements are ineffective–that people may be too shocked and distracted by the image to remember the message; however, Stark et al.’s numbers show that people tended to remember the advertisements more. After viewing advertisements with graphic labels, consumers reported less trustworthiness and less appeal toward the product as a whole.
    Overall, I believe it to be a positive step forward to adopt this method if the numbers suggest it may help. Certainly fear-based messages shouldn’t be the only methods used though. As long as the FDA increases support for quitting programs and society, especially the healthcare industry, doesn’t stigmatize smokers, I believe smoking numbers in the USA should decrease as well. So be careful saying “psychology says” if there are significant peer-reviewed sources in the field that suggest otherwise.
    O’Hegarty et al.:
    Peters et al.:
    Stark et al.:
    The last one isn’t publicly available (I have access through a university library) but the abstract gives the gist.

  • Anna

    “It depends on the message being depicted in the label. I’m actually skeptical of this article’s position because several studies into Canadian smoking labels specifically show a change in behavior”

    Actually non of these studies show a change in smoking behavior at all. Each of the reports are clearly focused on what people think of the graphic/text ads themselves and are in no way an indication of how many people (if any) have ever quit smoking due to the graphic nature of the ads.

    Smoking is an addiction and looking at a simple image, no matter how graphic and ugly it is, does nothing to change the chemical reaction taking place in the brain of a smoker. While the health warnings may educate some people (most are already aware of the negative effects of tobacco), most of us ignore them because it in no way reduces the physical cravings we get before reaching for a cigarette.

    I’d also like to mention the fact that people become desensitized to this sort of campaign when they are bombarded with it on a consistent basis.

    I have yet to see any real studies that actually question people on whether or not they quit smoking after being confronted by (and as a result of) graphic anti-smoking ads.

  • Iain

    Want to stop or reduce smoking? Put tobacco and nicotine in narcotic controlled substances catagorey. Or even better, total ban. Minimum 20 years for possession.
    Oh wait, sorry, tried that with marijuana and it didn’t work.
    Maybe just make tobacco users go hide out and smoke, like not in a public space and not in a house with minors.

  • JohnR22

    I despise the Nanny State…sticking it’s socialist nose into everyone’s personal business. And don’t drop that tired old canard that one person smoking is bad for the collective (i.e. drives up health care costs, etc.); once we give govt the power to FORCE us to stop doing things that are bad for us, the floodgates will be opened, because…you know….a lot of what we do is bad for us:

    1. Fatty foods
    2. Unsafe sex
    3. Driving cars that spread pollution

    The list is endless as virtually everything can be defined as “bad” if we want to regulate it, and the Nanny State being the all-intrusive scold that she is, will never rest.

  • Yael

    Wendy’s comment, “F— ‘smokers’ rights’ ” is spoken like a true Canadian. Why just smokers? Why not just go all the way and say ” F—- freedom” altogether??

    “First they came for the Communists….” Wendy, but they didn’t stop there.

  • gommygoomy

    I think they’re great. Now, let’s get these kinds of depictions, outside the ABORTION CLINICS. Maybe some picture of some of the MUTILATED CORPSES of the BUTCHERED little Babies. Maybe some pictures of women HEMMORAGING BLOOD, in their homes, after an abortion. How about some pictures of the Partial Birth Abortions, showing the FULL TERM BABY, pulled out, until only it’s head remains inside it’s Mother’s Womb. And, then, another picture of the Abortionist slicing open the Base of the FULL TERM BABY’S Skull, and sucking out it’s Brain?
    Let’s show everyone how COSISTANT we are, shall we?

  • Ptah

    I have to agree with JohnR22, this is just the beginning, let the government get by with this and there is nothing that will be off limits to them. This applies to Obama’s healthcare as well, if it is allowed to stand, this labeling of cigarettes will seem tame compared with what will follow. Imagine the labels they will put on bacon, ice cream, hot dogs, sugar, soda and about anything else you care to imagine. Anyone with half a brain knows too much of any of these is bad for you, but we are a nation of free people, the choice is ours. If these nanny state hypocrites won’t let us make these choices for ourselves perhaps there are other choices that we can make in November of 2012. Get involved in the discussion, it is your life, let the powers that be know that you can decide for yourself. This is not governments role in our society. Government builds and maintains roads, Protects our borders(?) provides police protection, organizes fire departments. Making value judgements is not in their job description!

  • Gnirol

    …fear communications generally backfire, that people tune them out, and therefore that these tactics are generally not effective.”

    I see, so showing the WTC crashing to the ground over and over again hundreds and hundreds of times on TV, though in reality it happened only once, did _not_ make people in, say, Oregon, Nebraska or South Carolina unreasonably fear terrorists and allow the president at the time to intimidate the country and the Congress into giving him carte blanche to attack Iraq and put into place a host of policies infringing on the people’s rights. Well, that’s an interesting thing to learn.

  • StoicLion

    While I don’t smoke, I stand up for liberty and freedom. And I find this idea to be childish and nonsense. People will either ignore the graphics or simply purchase cigarette cases, which are stylish, can fit easily into a pocket and are re-usable.

  • Katharine

    Apparently gummy-brains there has forgotten that the particular procedure being described is done in therapeutic circumstances only, i.e. when not doing so would kill the mother, or the pregnancy is not viable.

    Most abortions take place before a nervous system even develops.

    The hemorrhaging you’re talking about takes place when the abortion is UNSAFE. (To use your tactic of CAPS-LOCK IS CRUISE CONTROL FOR SHOUTING.)

    Then again, conservative Christians aren’t known for their attachment to reality, or for their love of women’s rights, or for their recognition that a zygote does not deserve the rights of an already-born human, who is a legal person.

    Cripes, you sound like you’re getting a stiffy when you describe it.

  • debra cole

    i am one of those people that smoke i have for over 40 years i hate my self for it and have tried twice to quit. my health for now is great-at 58 i go back-packing by my self. i do take something to put the trash of my sin in and plastic gloves to clean up after others which to me the left behind butts are a much worse sin than the smoking.
    so far the worst thing smoking has done to me is to give me a raging hatred for greatly obese women. Not the men because they have never confronted me.
    a few weeks ago my mom was in the ICU of a major hospital. It was a two block walk to the tiny smoking area (and this area also required the use of my gloves to pick up after others,this is the part i really don’t understand about other smokers) how ever a young obese woman limped over,sweat dripping from her whole body,gasping for breath-sat down right beside me and said “do you mind some of us are trying to breath” I was barely able to keep my mouth shut but dutifully put out my sin stick and sat there fuming. anxiously waiting for her to leave i almost had to be admitted myself when she pulled out a honey bun and a surgery soda and consumed them (very quickly,thankfully) before moving on. It seems every time I light up in a designated smoking area some two ton tessie will let me know that smoking is bad for my health. gentle readers I dislike my self more for these feelings of hate of large, panting obese women than i ever have for smoking. why can’t i pick my cause of death like they are allowed to do? One woman even told me that she could not help being fat and it was just the way God made her that just made me want to sit right there and chain smoke until i keeled over. Yes,smoking is plain stupid but i think most people have one such stupid area in their life and many things can kill you so why can’t we all be kind?

  • Katharine

    Well, debra, in some, though definitely not most, cases people are obese because of an actual endocrine problem. I do agree that most obese people are probably obese because they have no self-discipline. (Now I may be about 10 pounds over my ideal weight, but I’m working my arse off to get down to a normal weight.)

    Smoking is entirely avoidable. You can help smoking vastly more than some people can help being obese.

    Here’s what smoking did to my father: He is partially incontinent, has had three kinds of cancer, and was at one time a walking heart attack, all because of the cancer stick.

  • Katharine

    Oh. Also. Gum-brains, if it ain’t born it has zero legal personhood. The already-born trump the not-born, and frankly, a woman’s body is a woman’s choice, not yours, not the government’s, and not your imaginary friend’s.

  • Johan

    By the same reasoning, advertising doesn’t work either. The whole market is just deluded thinking that they need to make commercials, it has no effect at all. I mean, try doing a survey asking people if the reason they started smoking was because of ads.

  • MoreCo2

    The nanny state strikes again. If I was still a smoker I’d be really pizzed off. But look on the bright side. There are a heck of a lot of Obamabot smokers out there who may have second thoughts about voting for these dictators again.

  • Jennifer Angela

    Already many years ago it has been proved (I am sorry, but I´m too lazy to look for the evidence at the moment, but I feel certain you guys would be able to recall that or remember having read about it) that passive smoking kills people. More so than active smoking. Thus, of course smokers are supposed to have NO rights. Not in public! They are NOT supposed to kill us (the non smokers). However, whether they smoke within their own closed spaces, whether they smoke in their flats or houses or apartments or studios or vans… – is there business only. They are adults. They are aware of the risk. There are millions of other issues these days that people aren´t being warned enough too much. I totally agree with John on the examples he thought of. I would like to add: certain sexual practises, that spread horrible diseases and global warming. Not to mention Aids among gay men. What are we going to do about all of those issues? How are we going to solve those problems? How are we supposed to warn people about climate related issues and a million other dangers and problems? How are we going to help single Mums that work two shifts and a million other people who have actual problems? How are we to tell depressed people who have no legs that life is actually fun? How are we to help pregnant teenagers and young Mothers, who don´t feel ready for their motherhood? How are we to help Mothers with serious cases of PTS and thus prevent that they will kill their babies? How are we to convince lonely people, that suicide is the worst option to pick? How are we to prevent domestic violence? How are we to prevent violence at schools? There are so many REAL problems out there. And you guys care about adult smokers, who want to smoke. Why???

  • debra cole

    i d id not mean to disparage all over weight people. as a retired nurse I have seen terrible deaths for smokers,drinkers and also people who did nothing to incur such suffering. In Harlan,Ky. in the early 1970’s I saw terrible suffering in coal miners from black lung and they knew what it was doing to them not in medical jargon but all had watched loved ones go through the same thing. Of course these men really had no choice and neither did their sons it was the only way they had to feed their families-but when I think of lung disease and me, those are the scenes that I see in my mind just the worst and yet I smoke so is that really so different from having eating habits that I can’t control? Because I too struggle with weight issues not to mention diet habits that don’t really feed by body but only my urge for fatty,sweet foods void of vitamins It’s a pay off if I walk 5 miles I can have a treat sometimes but not always. So yes the staying near the ideal weight is easy for me however the not smoking is not Why can’t people who have their own demons allow me to have mine as long as i keep mine out of their space why can’t they keep theirs out of mine.And you work on the environment one tiny step at a time not great but a start you recycle more than you send to the dump!

  • Poodle_Slayer

    Should be fairly simple to see if cigarette sales drop after introducing the new labels. That would trump any of these studies.

  • mike

    The images do help, if they don’t deter smokers from smoking more that’s not a big deal but they sure as hell deter Non-smokers from starting a habit… Addicts need the substance regardless of what’s in their way

  • gommygoomy

    [This belligerent comment has been deleted.]

  • http://discover jmounday

    It is funny to see government tax cigarettes and fund childs healthcare at the same time attempting to reduce tax income. I do have a question , in california our local egg heads have stated reduced air polution has saved us billions in health cost,ie fuel efficency. Yet if added with previous claims reduced smoking has also reduced cost by billions.The numbers stated suggest we have no healthcare cost issues.

  • Steve851

    I have no problem with this as long as no taxpayer dollars were spent. It has been known to anyone paying attention for the past 50 years that tobacco causes death. Anyone who hasn’t gotten that is eligible for a Darwin Award and we can better get along wthout them. From a smoker

  • Oblivious

    @21: Gummybrains: Please reread your post and tell me where you messed up. (and I don’t mean your grammar and spelling)

    @17: Jen Angela: “I would like to add: certain sexual practises, that spread horrible diseases and global warming. Not to mention Aids among gay men.”
    Prostitution was instigated by women. AIDs has no bearing on sexual orientation. You discredit yourself with those statements.

    OP: I’m for the labels. I was a smoker for 13 years and I started because of my peers. *shrug* I also quit ‘cold-turkey’ and found that cigarette cravings were gone after a week and after that it’s just finding stuff to do with your hands. Such a tough task to take on in light of all the harm from continuing smoking?

  • Ryan

    Cigarettes have zero positive effect on people. Their anxiolytic effects are illusory, they cause a lower standard of living while you’re alive, and often times they eventually kill you. Do whatever you want to reduce smoking, government. And I do think these pictures will work–not with hardened, addicted smokers, but with people who are thinking about picking up a pack of cigarettes for a party or the like, which is how a smoking habit often starts.

  • wncchester

    Neither new shock labels nor anything else is going to deter those who wish to smoke, not should it be expected to do so. It’s no more than the normal ‘liberal’ mindset that makes them want to ‘do something’ to make other people behave in a PC way. As a group, liberals are unhappy and a little frightened about something all the time; it seems to offend them to see others enjoying life without worry so they try to stop it.

    I’m 70. In ’45 my teenage cousins who smoked called cigarettes “cancer sticks” and “coffin nails”. Meaning that even kids in the depressed rural South knew what they were doing. Those teary whiners who later sued tobacco companies for cancer risks they claimed they had not known were more than silly, they were clearly lying to obtain a huge monetary reward for experiencing exactly what they had known could occur due to their own choice. We are probably at the hard rock bottom of the decrease in smokers and new labels won’t change the “cool” appeal to those who wish to smoke. In fact, it could very well have the reverse effect, as so many nanny-state government efforts do.

    Those observers who say it isn’t the smoker’s fault because tobacco is just too addictive to beat are wrong; they should take a look at the highly successful ‘I quit” records of those who have had heart attacks and/or cancer. People are not mindless puppets, they CAN quit smoking if they wish!

    The highly touted ‘hazards’ of ‘second hand’ smoke is 98% Chicken Little ‘silly science’ contrived to justify freightening gullible non-smokers into supporting laws to harrass smokers even outdoors.

  • Scott D.

    I’m not a liberal, I’m a conservative leaning moderate. I am not a fan of the government telling us what to do in most circumstances. Smoking cigarettes is not one of those circumstances. The real hazards of second hand smoke is not “Chicken Little ‘silly science'”. I have moderate asthma (the typical asthmatic that most of you know probably has mild asthma), with one of the prime triggers being cigarette smoke. I was hospitalized when I was less than one year old due to a severe asthma attack when my family visited my grandparents, both smokers. With asthma, once the damage is done, its done. It can’t be undone. That much trauma done to a newborn’s lungs have left me with a debilitating condition. My family, and now myself as an adult, has spent thousands and thousands of dollars managing my condition, all due to one exposure as a baby. If that situation had not happened, would I still have asthma? Yes, its a genetic thing. However, it would not be as severe as it is today and far more manageable if my lungs had been allowed to develop in a healthy manner for a longer time. I wouldn’t be as prone to lung-related illnesses such as pneumonia or even the common cold. I wouldn’t be as out of breath from simple things such as climbing stairs. All this because as a helpless baby I was forced to breath in second hand smoke. To this day I have to hold my breath walking down the street if there’s a smoker nearby.

    Now, don’t get me wrong. If you want to smoke, thats your perogative. But don’t do where you force me, or others like me, to breath it in as well. Stick to those designated areas. To people like Debra, I appreciate greatly you going out of your way to do just that. If you’re in that designated area, and someone tells you to stop smoking, tell them where you are, and that there’s a non-smoking area down the way, and they’re free to move.

  • Ryan

    gommygoomy, I understand where you’re coming from, but you’re an idiot.

  • Chris the Canadian

    Wow. Just wow at the ignorance on here sometimes.

    First to Yael: Canadians are not COMMUNIST. We have the same freedoms that you have down there if not more. In fact, Canada is close to legalizing prostitution and marijuana use. Our government doesn’t stop people from selling cigarettes or smoking. It’s not illegal to smoke in Canada. It is illegal to smoke in public buildings or private companies. This isn’t communism it’s COMMON SENSE. If they make cigarette companies put these labels on cigarette packs in the States, it doesn’t mean you are one step closer to changing the stars and stripes to the hammer and sickle for crying out loud. Let’s see, Canada has universal health care where everyone can be cured of disease or illness equally well, subsidized university educations, social programs to aid the poor and meek, and our economy is doing pretty darned well and has been even during the recession. Sometimes government controls are necessary to protect society from themselves. You speak of freedoms being taken away as though a dictatorship is about to unfold in America. Get some real perspective please. Oh and no, the US government is NOT banning smoking. They are putting information about the hazards of smoking out there so people can be informed. Personally i don’t think it works, but I also don’t think it’s a negative either.

    As for the yahoo going on about MURDER and ABORTION and all that garbage. On the one hand you and the Tea Baggers, I mean Tea Party Conservatives preach freedom but then turn around and try to take away the Freedom of Choice for a woman. Speaking out of both sides of your mouth has become a ‘science’ of sorts for Conservative America. “We want less government in Washington, but we want to tell other countries how their governments should look. We want to cut spending, but we want to continue the war in Iraq that drains our economy like a leach. We want a better life for all Americans, but we don’t want a system of healthcare that would provide ALL Americans with the opportunity to lead healthy lives.” I could go on, but this is a science forum and it’s already been hijacked by nutbars.

  • Ryan

    @JohnR22 While I respect your point of view, it is incredibly simplistic and ill-informed. The truth is that there will always be powerful institutions imposing “regulations” and restricting freedoms on individuals. With a strongly democratic (=democracy, not Democrats) government, the powerful institution can best serve the needs of individual citizens and will probably be a little socialist leaning. Without a strong democratic government, the most powerful institutions that will emerge will likely be businesses, who are not beholden to the populace but rather to the bottom line (and are more like dictatorships). At this societal extreme, the only people who will have any such freedom whatsoever will be the rich. Is this what you want? Because that’s really what you’re arguing for with your simplistic comment.

  • Ryan

    @wncchester Oh yeah, conservatives are totally rooted in reality. People lived at the same time as the dinosaurs, it’s good for the economy to drain the nations coffers by fighting wars, there is a God spelled with a capital “G”, this is a christian nation, etc…

    Hey asshole, shut the f*ck up and learn something. Quit parroting what you’re told to say and think and figure it out for yourself. I’m warning you: it will be frightening when you’re able to see the truth as it really is, and you won’t be able to make total sense of it because choosing to live is not a logical choice, but you’ll still want to anyway. You might even discover why some people are liberal and some are conservative but most are actually shades of both if you take those words for their literal meanings. You want freedom, huh? You really want freedom? Then free your f*cking mind from the lies you let yourself believe.

  • sa

    goomy you are not kind or compassionate, but then anger and feelings of righteousness make us all more immature. If you don’t want there to be abortions, support easily accessible birth control for men and women.

    Also, as an on-again off-again smoker, seeing “No Smoking” signs, information about quitting on billboards, other people smoking… (let alone the same “graphic” pictures of smoker’s lungs I’ve been seeing since grade-school health class) DO make me want a cigarette. I can go hours and hours without smoking. But as soon as it occurs to me that I could smoke… I do. If we want more people to be able to quit we have about 50 billion “no smoking” signs to remove.

  • Joe


    Good comment. I would like to add one of my own: How about graphic pictures of people dying of aids on condom packages and a government enforced statement “Warning: condoms fail 13 percent of the time while abstinence works every time it is tried”. Or maybe graphic photos of gay guys making love and a government statement like this: “Caution: HIV and the AIDS virus are predominate in the homosexual community.” Maybe every thing that contains sugar should have graphic pictures of grossly obese dead bodies and labeling that says “Caution: Diabetes rates are progressing at a pace that will soon eclipse the number of people killing themselves with Tobacco products”. Here is a good one: Graphic pictures of people killed while trying to escape communism, from behind the Berlin wall or Cambodian and Vietnamese people drowning, getting hacked to pieces by pirates, or raped and a warning label on both paper and electronic voting ballots that say “Caution: Voting for nanny state politicians leads to communist oppression.” I mean if the govt is going to insist on being mom and dad to us all, why not make it really count.

    All of the above examples are offensive, of course, but then, the heart and soul of political correctness is outrageousness, offense, arrogance. Do-gooders trying to tell every one else how to live, so, as ridiculous and offensive as those things might be, why not? If a little do-gooderness is good enough for the goose, it’s good enough for the gander.

  • Fester

    Try to think back… : Before you became addicted to, or “sold on” a certain product, did a simple marketing tool, like product packaging, ever get you to change your behavior?

  • Joe

    debra cole

    I had to laugh when I read your comment about the “two ton tessies”. It reminded me of my older sister who once told me that smoking was stupid. I bit my tongue and refrained from telling her that being 100 lbs overweight isn’t to damn smart either. It would have been a waste of breath to say anything to her. Her arrogancy level is so high that while flowing out of her mouth like water in a spillway, it also plugs up her ears. LOL Thanks for the laugh, I am glad to know I am not the only one who has experienced the insipid arrogance of the “two ton tessie”. (Maybe some day we can get together and gripe about how these same women are sometimes the worst ‘tail-gators’ and rudest drivers on the highways. I mean, behind the wheel of a car seems to be the only place they can move fast in life and they get really obnoxious with any one who slows them down)

  • anebt

    I started smoking in 1998 when I was 32. I decided to quit because it was just tiring to carry around an ash tray around the house. The motivation was, ironically, nit inspired by any gory images or warnings of dire consequences but of personal inconvenience in the comfort of my home. (To all the statists–no, I don’t have kids, and my spouse smokes too.) When I started reducing my smoking, I noticed the lifelong (until 1998) OCD that crippled me my entire life (and almost really endangered me) come back, a disease I’ve had since I was 5.

    Tobacco for many is a way to self-medicate. Yes, tobacco pills are used to treat OCD but in the stomach, tobacco doesn’t readily hit the brain. Tobacco is the best anti-obsessive for OCD folks and for Bipolars, the latter who smoke at a 60% rate, far higher than the 21% quoted for the general population.

    Antidepressants didn’t work with me. Nothing really does for severe OCD, especially the obsessive-dominant type. I suspect the hard-cores may be medicating and may not even know it. Ditto for alcohol and pot.

  • Brian Too

    I challenge the results of this study on first principles.

    If true, it would mean that all the lifestyle marketing, product placement, package design, and all the related activities of the tobacco companies were meaningless. As in, they generated no value whatsoever to the companies funding their marketing campaigns. It might even go further and indicate that all commercial marketing activities everywhere are pointless!

    While this mathematically possible, self-interest for said companies would indicate that a useless expense avoided goes directly to the bottom line. That’s a powerful incentive to find the effectiveness of marketing. We’re talking about the commercial equivalent of natural selection.

    If positive marketing works then negative marketing also ought to work.

    Something does not add up here.

  • Ramesh Raghuvanshi

    Those who are addicted with cigarettes they will ignore the warning on packet.People who are smoker they really punishing themselves for guilt feeling.Impact of guilt feeling is always so strong without punishing your self you cannot relief.All though this relief is temporary, victim cannot avoid it.

  • Here

    As a former smoker, I can tell you they scare some people but mostly annoy the rest. So the millions invested in this kind of ads will be ignored by millions of people who are great at finding creative ways of hiding these disturbing images. How many ex-smokers do you know who quit because of these labels? People don’t need to be told what they already know


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