When a written warning just isn’t enough: talking cigarette packs

Mike Krumboltz
The Sideshow

Cigarette butt (Thinkstock)
Cigarette butt (Thinkstock)

Smokers are used to written warnings about smoking on the sides of their cigarette packs. But what about a pack that talks?

A group of researchers from University of Stirling's Centre for Tobacco Control Research in Scotland are working on cigarette packs that attempt to dissuade would-be smokers from lighting up, The Scotsman reports.

The group is currently testing the talking packs on young women. When the smoker opens the pack, a recorded message plays. One message states that smoking reduces fertility. Another message includes a phone number where smokers can get assistance in kicking the habit.

Researchers told the Scotsman that the verbal warnings got positive reactions from the volunteers participating in the study. Volunteers, particularly 16- and 17-year-old females, did say the messages would make them think about stopping, according to the Scotsman. They used the terms "hard-hitting" and "off-putting" to describe the message about fertility.

If talking cigarette packs sound annoying, that's part of the idea. One volunteer thought the talking packs might make her stop, simply because they'd be too obnoxious to deal with. "Some people would maybe say I need to pack that in because the packets are doing my nut in," the woman said, according to the Scotsman.

Crawford Moodie of the Centre for Tobacco Control Research told the Scotsman that consumers "may see [cigarette] packs that play music or talk, so we wanted to see if that could be used for our purposes."

The researchers are now working on another study that will include men and older adults.

The project was funded by Cancer Research U.K., as the BBC noted.

According to the 2012 Scottish Health Survey, 23% of all adults ages 16 and older were current smokers in 2011. In 2006, 25.4% of Scottish adults were smokers.

In the United States, 19% of all adults ages 18 years or older smoke cigarettes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.