A new study has found that continuous and persistent anti-smoking campaigning will actually coerce people to give up the deadly habit. That means, the next time you warn your friend about lighting up - he might just take you seriously and give it all up!
The study has found that the more a smoker worries about health risks, the more he/she will contemplate quitting.
The researchers claimed that warning messages created worry that could nudge smokers to put the burning stick down.
"We didn't set out with the goal of trying to get people to quit. The idea was to prompt smokers to think about it. The more we can do to get them motivated, the better," said Renee Magnan, a psychologist at the University of New Mexico.
The researchers conducted the study on 119 smokers, with an average age of 26. Half of the subjects were students at North Dakota State University, while the rest were from the neighbouring Fargo community.
During a meeting, the researchers told the participants that the experiment was about communicating smoking-related information.
The researchers said that they would not ask smokers to quit, but smokers would receive messages on a personal digital assistant (PDA) eight times a day during the first week, and six times a day the second week.
They then divided the smokers into two groups. For one group, the messages focused on various hassles - stress and money, for example. The other group received antismoking messages, some of which described how it affects non-smokers when someone else smokes or how smoking can lead to wrinkles and yellow teeth.
However, Magnan said that the messages with more influence concerned serious health effects. The most worrisome was "93 percent of lung cancer patients die within five years."
Over half of participants getting serious anti-smoking messages reported trying to quit during the intervention, while about 19 percent of smokers in the other group said that they tried to quit.
The study has been published in the journal Annals of Behavioural Medicine.