Many smokers still surprised by facts about tobacco's dangers

May 16, 2014 by Milly Dawson
Many smokers still surprised by facts about tobacco’s dangers

A new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine finds that many smokers still find accurate and detailed facts about the dangers of tobacco both new and motivating in terms of their desire to quit. This finding proved to be especially marked among members of groups that are most likely to be smokers today.

"The tobacco industry systematically deceived the public for decades, denying that smoking was dangerous or addictive," explained one of the study's authors James Thrasher, associate professor at the University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health.

Meanwhile cigarette makers were actually designing their products to be more addictive to increase sales. Because of their deceitfulness, a landmark court ruling in 2006 stated that the industry had to provide "corrective statements" about their past deceptions on five topics: health effects of smoking for ; of secondhand smoke for nonsmokers; cigarette and nicotine addictiveness; industry design of cigarettes to increase addiction; and the lack of relative safety of low-tar and light cigarettes.

For nearly a decade, though, implementation of this ruling has been delayed while the industry has fought back in the courts. During this delay, continues to make tobacco use seem like a "normal, important part of everyday behavior," the authors wrote.

"Our study found that many smokers are still unaware of tobacco industry lies," said Thrasher. He added that smokers indicate that receiving factual, corrective information about the dangers of smoking motivates them to quit; also that members of groups that are highly targeted by the tobacco industry were especially responsive to the corrective statements. These groups include women, African Americans, Latinos and lower-income people. "This study suggests that the longer we wait to give smokers this information about the 's lies, the more smokers will continue to consume " noted Thrasher.

1,404 smokers ranging in age from18 to 64 years old and of diverse ethnic, gender and income groups were presented with the corrective statements. Between one half and one third of the study participants stated that some information in the corrective statements was novel to them. Those who experienced novelty were likelier to express anger at the industry, to find the message(s) relevant and to feel motivated to quit by the message(s). Novelty ratings ran consistently higher among African Americans and Latinos than among non-Hispanic whites.

Should corrective statements one day be "widely disseminated and highly visible, they will serve a key public education function," says Andrea Villanti, Ph.D., MPH, associate director for regulatory science and policy at the American Legacy Foundation. By correcting previous lies, she says, they "may have a role in preventing youth from initiating smoking and increasing cessation among adults."

Explore further: Users bemoan e-cigarette bans in NYC, Chicago

Related Stories

Users bemoan e-cigarette bans in NYC, Chicago

April 29, 2014

Laws in New York and Chicago making electronic cigarettes subject to the same regulations as tobacco are taking effect, and their sellers and users are steadfast in their opposition.

Judge orders tobacco companies to say they lied

November 27, 2012

(AP)—A federal judge on Tuesday ordered tobacco companies to publish corrective statements that say they lied about the dangers of smoking and that disclose smoking's health effects, including the death on average of 1,200 ...

Recommended for you

Exercise good for the spine

April 24, 2017

A world-first study has shown that specific physical activity benefits the discs in our spines and may help to prevent and manage spinal pain.

Is soda bad for your brain? (and is diet soda worse?)

April 20, 2017

Americans love sugar. Together we consumed nearly 11 million metric tons of it in 2016, according to the US Department of Agriculture, much of it in the form of sugar-sweetened beverages like sports drinks and soda.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.