Social cues on tobacco packaging may help people quit smoking

Washington: According to a new research, tobacco packaging that reminds smokers of people who disapprove of the activity can trigger feelings of self-consciousness, which in turn helps in reducing smoking addiction.

New research conducted at the King’s University College and published in the Journal of Consumer Affairs suggests that this approach is particularly effective in ‘isolated’ smokers who do not see smoking as identity-relevant or congruent with their social self.

The study involved an online experiment with a panel of 156 adult smokers, who were randomly assigned to view one of two tobacco packages, which included the tagline – “this is how people look at smokers”.

Specifically, packages featured black and white photographs of the same individuals either displaying neutral or disgusted expressions.

“Our early research suggests that tobacco packaging itself may be another tool by which to exert similar pressure, especially in those smokers already sensitive to smoking stigma,” said co-author of the study, Jennifer Jeffrey.

Tobacco denormalisation strategies such as workplace and social setting bans have used social pressure as a means of discouraging smoking.