We all know that smoking is terrible for you, and that it’s the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. One recent study found that having just one cigarette a day can significantly shorten your lifespan, and another recent study found that it takes a whopping 16 years to reverse the effects of smoking once you quit. In spite of all of this, recent statistics show that more than 15 of every 100 Americans aged 18 years or older currently smoke cigarettes, which adds up to about 37.8 million adults in the United States. Yes, in 2018.
If you’re a smoker, you know that quitting is maddeningly difficult. And if your well-meaning friends and relatives try to guilt or shame you into quitting, the strategy often backfires, as you simply grow resentful towards them, tell them it’s none of their business what you do with your body.
However, according to a new study published in The Journal of Consumer Affairs, shaming can actually help someone quit, but there’s a hitch: It only works if the focus of the shaming is on how the behavior affects other people, as opposed to the smoker himself.
Most tobacco packaging today comes with shock tactics meant to dissuade the smoker from buying a pack, and range from alarming warnings about how smoking can cause impotency and gruesome photos of cancerous mouths. However, some studies have shown that these graphic images and captions aren’t effective. So the researchers conducted an experiment in which the tried to see if packaging that focused on the negative consequences that smoking has on others is more effective than packaging that only addresses the health effects it has on themselves.
While more research is necessary, these findings seem logical. Many smokers say that they can’t quit because it helps them deal with stress, even though we all know that nicotine actually enhances anxiety levels by increasing your heart rate. Because it’s a mood-altering drug that offers a temporary release of the feel-good hormone dopamine, many adults begin smoking in order to cope with events that are causing them enormous pain, like the loss of a job or a brutal divorce.
So, perhaps, in this particular case, it pays to be selfish. And if you’re looking for looking for more new methods on how to quit yourself, read up on The Single Best Way to Stop Smoking You’ve Never Tried.