Talking of the smell that lingers with smokers after a ciggie break can prove a better way to push them towards kicking the butt than discussing about tobacco-related diseases that addicts cannot even relate to, according to an Australian study.
For the study, University of Sydney Department of Psychology PhD candidate Emily Kothe brought together 28 current and former smokers to test the effectiveness of the latest anti-smoking advertisements.
Although the television ads were shown to reduce cravings and inspire a sense of "disgust" and "worry" in current smokers, they surprisingly reported feeling that the images did not relate to them.
"Many smokers did not feel the advertisements were enough to make them quit," News.com.au quoted Kothe as saying.
She added: "... the smell associated with being a smoker may have more impact than talking about gangrene."
In her opinion, future ad campaigns should highlight consequences of the habit that smokers could immediately relate to.
While the latest advertising campaign had proven effective in discouraging people from taking up smoking, the message did not quite influence young smokers (aged 18 to 26) taking part in the trials.
"We received comments such as 'some of the particular diseases the advertisement displays might be a bit far-fetched - gangrene, for example'," said Kothe.
She added: "Others stated 'being young and healthy, I don't think the pictures shown, for example mouth cancer, really relate to me ... we are a long way from these things happening to us'."
The researchers looked at the age group most likely to smoke and who most often underestimated their personal level of risk.
It was found that smokers who watched the ads had a 16 per cent decrease in nicotine cravings, while ex-smokers showed no decline.
However, smokers who watched a non-health related video instead of the advertisement experienced a 12 per cent increase in cravings over the same period.
The study will be presented at the Heart Foundation Conference, a three-day event under way on the Gold Coast.