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The study was published in Nicotine & Tobacco Research, and involved nearly a thousand participants aged between 16 and 24 from the UK, including both smokers and non-smokers. The young adults were shown images of three types of cigarettes: a regular cigarette, a regular cigarette displaying a ‘Smoking kills’ warning, and one that is unattractively coloured. The participants were then asked to rate the attractiveness of these cigarettes and to point out how inclined they would be to try them.

The results indicated that for both smokers and non-smokers, the cigarettes with the healthy warning and the unattractively coloured one were rated significantly less favourably than the regular plain white cigarettes. Both smokers and non-smokers reported being less inclined to try the first two.

“The study shows how cigarettes can be an important communication tool and that altering their appearance, with a health warning or an unappealing colour, can make them less desirable. Young people who start smoking are likely to continue to do so into adulthood, so anything that may deter smoking among this group could help to tackle the potential health repercussions in later life.”Dr Crawford Moodie, Lead Study Author

“The study shows how cigarettes can be an important communication tool and that altering their appearance, with a health warning or an unappealing colour, can make them less desirable. Young people who start smoking are likely to continue to do so into adulthood, so anything that may deter smoking among this group could help to tackle the potential health repercussions in later life,” said Cancer Research UK-funded scientist and lead author, Dr Crawford Moodie.

Making cigarettes unattractive will entice less people to try smoking

George Butterworth, a senior policy manager for Cancer Research UK thinks that any measure that could make cigarettes less appealing should be considered. “Too many young people are still taking up smoking in the UK. Government anti-smoking campaigns and tax rises on cigarettes remain the most effective methods to stop young people starting. We need to continue to explore innovative ways to turn young people off cigarettes to ensure that youth smoking rates continue to drop. This study shows that tactics like making the cigarettes themselves unappealing could be an effective way of doing this.”

Read Further: EurekAlert!

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