The images may be having the exact opposite effect that anti-smoking advocates had intended.
A surprising new study has found that those graphic images on cigarette packs meant to dissuade pepole from smoking may actually be having the opposite effect.
Researchers at the University of Illinois finds that such images are actually arousing a libertarian feel in people, who feel that such images are a ham-handed way to get them to stop smoking and are an attempt at infringing on their freedoms, causing them to smoke in defiance, according to a UPI report.
Posting large warnings and graphic images of diseased lungs has worked worldwide, and oftentimes the new regulations in other countries comes with taxes and restrictions, causing a drop in smoking. But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been having a harder time, facing lawsuits every since approving graphic warnings in 2012.
A total of 435 undergraduate college students between the ages of 18 and 25 were examined. About 17.5 percent of them were smokers. Half of the smokers and non-smokers received packs of cigarettes that either had graphic images or text warnings, then they filled out a questionnaire.
The findings indicated that the graphic warnings had a negative impact — that is, they were annoyed that the packaging seemed to be attacking their freedom of choice, and the government was trying to manipulate them.
The findings were published in the journal Communication Research.
The news release from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is below:
“What we found is that most people don’t like these warning labels, whether they are smokers or nonsmokers,” Nicole LaVoie, a doctoral student in communication and the lead author of the study, said in a statement.
“It makes them angry, it makes them express negative thoughts about the packaging, that they’re being manipulated,” she added. “Ultimately, it also makes them think that the source – the government in this case, mandating these labels – is being overly domineering, is being too much in their business.”