How cigarette warnings help the tobacco industry

Cigarette warning labels.
Warning labels on cigarettes: Disgusting, but apparently ineffective.

When Martin Lindstrom started research for his book Buyology, he took a group of smokers, placed them in an fMRI machine and measured the reactions of their brains while flashing images of cigarette warnings labels at them.

He was astonished by the results.

Not only did they fail to deter cigarette smokers from smoking cigarettes, they actually encouraged it.

“Cigarette warnings… stimulated an area of the smoker’s brain called the nucleus accumbens, otherwise known as “the craving spot”… when stimulated, the nucleus accumbens requires higher and higher doses to get its fix.”

The data lead him to the conclusion that:

“…those same cigarette warning labels intended to curb smoking, reduce cancer and save lives had instead become a killer marketing tool for the tobacco industry.”

Nice use of millions of dollars of taxes!

It could be argued that the anti-smoking groups acted in good faith. But, at least in America, this is the same anti-smoking lobby which worked with Marlborough to keep menthol cigarettes legal, while lobbying against the smokeless tobacco which carries a fraction of the risks of cigarettes. (To be fair ASH UK support smokeless tobacco (and, cautiously, e-cigarettes).)

(According to Velvet Glove Iron Fist, which charts the history of the anti-smoking movement, anti-smoking groups in California were also furious when some money from tobacco settlements was spent on improved treatment of smoking diseases instead of on prevention!)

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3 thoughts on “How cigarette warnings help the tobacco industry

  1. Hey, at least they used the money to do something related to smoking. In the US our new taxes go to healthcare for children, not smokers and ASH wishes us to pay surcharges on our health insurance so that the rest of the country can enjoy better health care at our expense as well.

    This is interesting though, smokers are so addicted that even the sight of a diseased lung makes them want to smoke. Shouldn’t our society be doing everything we can to help these people break this insidious cycle instead of spending millions arguing in court over whether they should remain legal or not without any proof they are a danger to anyone?

    I will say though, LOL, those pics do have an effect on our children who hound us daily to stop smoking, so it’s not all wasted money!

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