Talking Cigarette Packs Try to Get Smokers to Quit

Some test subjects considered quitting just to get the packs to shut up

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2007 AFP

Smokers have grown accustomed to graphic warnings on cigarette packs, detailing the havoc cigarettes can wreak on their lungs, their teeth, their libidos, basically anything related to their well-being. But in case they haven’t gotten the message, health researchers have devised a new way to grab smokers’ attention: cigarette packs that talk back to their owners.

(MORE: FDA Approves New Cigarettes in First Use of New Regulatory Power Over Tobacco)

Researchers at the University of Stirling in Scotland have designed packages that play a recorded message each time the lid opens. The BBC reports that the message would warn smokers about fertility risks and offer a helpline number for further information on quitting. The messages showed initial promise among a sample group of libido-concerned teenage smokers. Aside from the content of the message, some test subjects considered quitting just to make the packs shut up. According to the Daily Mail, the researchers may further explore the “annoying” angle by developing packs that play music or simply talk too much.

“Tobacco companies creatively exploit packaging to communicate with consumers,” the researchers wrote on the University of Stirling’s website, “through the pack graphics, pack structure (shape, style of opening) and other pack elements such as the tear-tape, cellophane, inner foil.” So the audio is designed to drown out the subtle messages from Big Tobacco with warnings from health officials.

(MORE: Do National Smoking Bans Actually Work?)

Talking cigarette packs may be one way the Scots are trying to combat smoking as the Scottish government has set an ambitious goal to cut smoking rates from 23 percent to 5 percent by 2034.

(MORE: Strolls Can Help Teen Smokers to Quit)