Those of you who know me will probably know how much I hate tobacco.
You might also know (if you've been unlucky enough to get stuck with me across a coffee table where there are cigarette packets) that I can't stand the "health warnings" that come with the bundles of cigarettes.
My argument has always been that, if they kill, why are you selling them? Or, governments, if you impose these warnings on tobacco companies, why don't you just ban the things?
I won't go into the possible answers to my last questions (I leave this up to you should you want to comment). My point is a much more serious one.
These labels not only remind us of the hypocrisy that rules the world but can also in fact, be doing much more harm than good. In a study carried out by a syndicate of anti-smoking organisations, involving neuro-imaging, phrases such as "smoking kills" were seen to do nothing to reduce nicotine craving. Not just that. Those smokers who felt some sort of guilt when reading the warnings, saw activity in their nicotine-craving regions increase.
So what's the point of these warnings?
To remind those of us who hate the smoke coming out of other people's nostrils that we are in the presence of poisonous substances? Or to spoil the joy of those who are addicted to their source?
I don't get it. Do you?
If you would like to read more on neuro-imaging and its use in marketing, visit the RSA website and look for the article "Brain Sells". Or just click here.