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No smoking signs 'encourage' smokers to smoke

6th May 2011

Researchers at Oxford University have said that no smoking signs could actually prompt smokers to have a cigarette.

smokingbar1

They carried out a study which found the signs have an "ironic" impact on smokers and heighten their cravings.

The study showed that the signs made smokers think about smoking.

Researcher Brian Earp, from Oxford University, said the effect could be likened to a person saying "don't think of a pink elephant" - making it impossible not to think about pink elephants.

"A lot of public health messages are framed in a negative way - say no to drugs, don't drink and drive, no smoking," he explained.

"No smoking signs in particular are everywhere. If you're a smoker walking down a street you're likely to pass five or six of these signs in windows or on doors. If you have a chronically positive attitude to smoking this could boost your craving," he added.

The team tested the theory by asking a group of volunteers to look at a selection of photographs.

Some of the photos had a no smoking sign somewhere in the picture, while others had the sign digitally removed.

The group then carried out a test which measured how they reacted to a series of images.

The research showed that the volunteers who had seen the no smoking signs were more drawn to images which showed smoking and cigarettes.

 

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