Positive Messages May Help Smokers Quit Easier, New Study Finds

by Dr Antonio Howell, MD

in quit smoking

The 3 Week Diet

Want a friend or family member to quit smoking? Say something nice. According to a new study, positive messages about the health benefits of quitting smoking may help some people kick the habit.


Young woman is breaking a cigarette, quit smoking concept, isolaAlthough smokers who think quitting will be difficult responded better to “loss-framed” messages about the harmful effects of smoking, researchers found smokers who believe they can quit whenever they want benefit more from “gain-framed,” or positive, messages about how quitting will improve their health.

The findings, published this month in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research, suggest that a mix of both types of messages might get more people to stop smoking.

The new study involved 740 participants. The researchers examined the effects of four images: a man using a device to help him breathe; a healthy lung next to a diseased lung; a man lying on a white sheet with stitches on his chest, and a mouth ravaged by cancer. These images had either “loss-framed” or “gain-framed” messages.

The researchers examined the effects of four images: a man using a device to help him breathe; a healthy lung next to a diseased lung; a man lying on a white sheet with stitches on his chest, and a mouth ravaged by cancer. These images had either “loss-framed” or “gain-framed” messages.


“This study shows us that leveraging both gain- and loss-framed messaging may prompt more smokers to quit,” lead investigator Darren Mays, a population scientist at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, said in a university news release.


Majority of tobacco warnings on cigarette packages sold in the United States and around the world are “loss-framed” messages. The researchers cautioned that these statements may not convince many smokers to quit.

The American Cancer Society-supported study found each image was effective. The researchers said their findings could provide additional evidence for new graphic warnings proposed for U.S. cigarette packages.

“Leveraging policies such as graphic warnings for cigarette packs to help smokers quit is critical to improve public health outcomes,” concluded Mays. “Our study shows that framing messages to address smokers’ pre-existing attitudes and beliefs may help achieve this goal.”

The 3 Week Diet

Previous post:

Next post:

Click here to subscribe to my mailing list