Do the government-enforced, morbid, warning messages on cigarette packets produce the desired results? According to a new study, the number of men smoking tobacco in India rose to 108 million, an increase of 36%, between 1998 and 2015. The World Health Organization (WHO) says India is home to 12% of the world’s smokers. Clearly, the messages are not doing any good; on the contrary, the number of smokers are rising, steadily! Why?
The major reasons that create a smoker out of a person are:
- Stress relief.
- Social acceptance.
People can start smoking due to various reasons, but they remain smokers to offset the problems in their lives.
When one continues to smoke for long enough, his brain rewires to become dependent on nicotine to release dopamine (the pleasure chemical), making him an addict. And, the longer he remains addicted, this brain wiring becomes stronger and it becomes harder to quit smoking. He, then, reaches a stage when, he does not care about his life more than the chance to escape from his day-to-day stress, albeit temporarily. Will such a person be demotivated by a message that says he will die from smoking?
Researchers estimate that half of a person’s tendency to become addicted to cigarettes is genetically determined. However, the hunt for the involved genes is in its infancy, says Ming Li, PhD, a University of Virginia psychiatrist.
Based on one study, there are 3 groups of genes responsible for Nicotine addiction:
- Nicotine receptors sensitivity (neurons that light up when nicotine is present)
- Response to rewards (if brain makes little dopamine, smoking cigarettes will help make more)
- Breaking down of nicotine (quicker the breakdown, more cigarettes smoked)
According to Terror management theory, when one is reminded of imminent death, a panic response is triggered. And, for a typical smoker, the panic response, usually, leads to another round of smoke. That is why, the morbid messages on cigarette packets can, actually, increase smoking.
Smoking is an emotional process, hence the logical messages like, “smoking causes lung cancer” or “smoking kills” would be ineffective.
Some copies that popped in my mind:
- To stress is human, to smoke is inhumane.
- Smoking is a fake solution for a real problem.
- Try this, instead: DEEP BREATHs.
- We’ll give you painful death and take away all your money. Yours truly, “Big Tobacco”.
Workers who smoke cost the U.S. economy an estimated $278 billion annually. What are your thoughts or tactics to kill this problem?