Talking Cigarette Packs to Dissuade Smokers

Written warning messages have appeared on cigarette packs for decades. Strictures that cigarette packs carry picture warnings on the reverse, including images of diseased lungs, have also been passed in many countries in the recent past. Ban on smoking in public areas is yet another mechanism devised to deter smokers.

Now there is something really unique to coax smokers kick the butt. Scottish researchers have devised cigarette packets that speak, probably an idea taken from speaking greeting cards.

Two Prerecorded Messages
The cigarette packet voice warns the user of the probable risks of tobacco use. Of course, the talking is in addition to all other measures that are already in place.

Bad breath, tooth decay, gum disease, lung cancer and eventually death; there are just too many adverse effects of using the puff. It is therefore right to use as many methods as possible to persuade the addicts to shun the habit.

Two different voice-overs have been created by the researchers working at the Center for Tobacco Control Research, Stirling University.

One recording provides the phone number from where the smoker can seek advice on quitting smoking. The other narration, probably the one that hits the smoker harder, warns that smoking may lead to infertility. These prerecorded messages play when the lid of the cigarette pack is opened.

Mixed Reactions
The devise has been tested on women volunteers aged between 16 and 24. The reviews have revealed that the ‘fertility’ message is indeed an “off-putting” one and may well lead many smokers to put on their thinking caps.

“Some people would maybe say I need to pack that in because the packets are doing my nut in,” said one woman volunteer.

But things are not so simple. “I think you would probably get used to it … once you start smoking you just ignore it,” said another volunteer.

While the responses from the volunteers is a mixed bag, this is what Crawford Moodie, one of the researchers feels, “With the talking packs, people thought they were annoying, but that is a really good way to capture attention. It created a lot of interest.”

And some neutral opinions; Sheila Duffy, chief executive of ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) Scotland said, “I welcome the suggestion that we get more creative to put forward images of good health and freedom from addiction as alternatives to tobacco.”

Simon Clark, director of the smokers’ lobby group Forest saw the gory side of the initiative. He said that children may be tempted towards these prerecorded messages. “The more gruesome the message the more enticing it will be. That’s why horror films are popular with teenagers,” opined Clark.