Smokers are lured by non-smoking ads

Posted by Lakshmi Gopal on Fri, May 6, 2011  
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Can a non-smoking advertisement or sign actually drive people to smoke? According to a new psychological study, ‘no smoking’ signs and the visual image of cigarettes, evoke desire in smokers, whereby they are encouraged to take that ‘precious’ puff.


This, say scientists, is known as the ‘ironic effect’ acting on smokers.


An ironic effect is one that results from coupling information that people perceive with negation, reports the Daily Mail, quoting a researcher from Oxford University.


Haven’t people on a diet experienced a similar ‘ironic effect’? When bombarded with sugar-free ice-cream, chocolate and cake ads, an ex-foodie inevitably dashes out to the nearest bakery to grab his favorite desserts (whether they are sugar-free or not).


This effect was perhaps acknowledged way back in 2005 (though not under the same name) by the Indian government, when it passed an Act to ban smoking in movies and the TV. That Act was unfortunately revoked in 2009 by a New Delhi court.


If one has a chronically positive attitude to something that is bad for health, then even ‘banned’ and ‘no-no’ ads could boost one’s craving. The ironic effect gives one a psychological kick so that the very object that's supposed to be prohibited becomes more desirable.


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