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Jul 12, 2013 09:44 AM EDT

Criticizing Young Adults’ Physical Appearance and Odor Might Urge Them to Quit Smoking : Study

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Young smokers might consider giving up smoking if they were criticized about their body odor and appearance, according to a study conducted by University of Otago.

Researchers have found out that graphic warning images printed on cigarette packets are no longer effective on young smokers.  

Rather than telling them about serious long-term health consequences of smoking, including throat cancer, diseased livers, bloodshot eyes and rotting teeth, parents can attempt telling them 'how unattractive they look and smell while smoking a cigarette'. This method has been seen as an effective means to get their attention and eventually lead them to quit smoking.

A previous study published in BMC Public Health in June, showed that a group of 17 young adult smokers were not affected by serious health warnings. But, when the researchers spoke about social stigma, short-term health risks and sexual undesirability, it evoked some strong reactions.

"Social or cosmetic risks are more immediate and can't be as easily rationalised," saidJanet Hoek, Otago University professor."These messages reduced smoking's symbolic value, tainted the identity participants sought, and foregrounded the risk that non-smokers would reject them as unattractive."

Researchers claim that phrases such as 'Kissing a smoker is not a turn-on,' 'Everyone can smell a smoker,' and 'Smoking stuffs your lungs,' seemed to have more positive effect on a group of 18 to 30-year-olds.

Out of these new phrases, 'Everyone can smell a smoker,' was the most appealing to a group of young women. They claimed that this phrase would surely make them think twice before taking a puff.

"It's true, it's gross as," one said.

Ash director Ben Youdan said smoking is now seen as something that is socially less acceptable.

"I think it's indicative that 10 years ago smoking was seen as being grown up and cool and a bit edgy, and now it's something that people are a bit ashamed of," Youdan said.

Other studies on smoking revealed that general public start smoking at the age of 15; currently there are relatively few young smokers in total and at least 17 per cent of the population, and a third of 18 to 30-year-olds, are still addicted to the habit.

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