Wednesday 23 March 2016

Otago Public Health, again.

Otago Public Health just advances from strength to strength, doesn't it? Here's their latest groundbreaking research. In an online survey of smokers, they find that smokers don't like cigarettes that have been made especially ugly. And so they recommend that cigarettes be required to be ugly.
Professor Hoek says the team tested reactions to images of four cigarette sticks that either featured printed warnings or had unattractive colours, such as yellow-brown and green.
“We found that smokers were significantly less likely to choose the test sticks and found all significantly less appealing than the status quo — a white cigarette with a brown filter tip,” she says.
A “minutes of life lost” graphic that went from one minute near the tip up to 15 near the butt had the strongest aversive effect relative to the other sticks tested.
“Requiring cigarette sticks and rolling paper to feature such a graphic, or to be produced in dissuasive colours, would likely increase the impact plain packaging will have on those who smoke, while also deterring others from taking up smoking,” Professor Hoek says.
We've long left the "we only want to provide information so smokers know the risks" world. When the goal is eradication, all policy bets are off.

Here are some other potentially fruitful lines of online survey research for Otago to somehow turn into peer-reviewed journal articles, in journals happy to accept that kind of thing:

  • Noxious odours added to cigarette paper to make people less tolerant of nearby smokers: which particular smells would smokers and those who know smokers find most repellent? Skunk, sulphur or body odour? How much would surveyed smokers cut back their smoking if they expected to smell like a skunk for the next three days?
  • What does an online panel of smokers think about exempting those who are smoking from laws against common assault? By how much would it reduce their smoking if they knew they could legally be punched or kicked while smoking? 
  • Following up on those two last bits of research, are there complementarities between letting non-smokers assault smokers, and making cigarette smoke even more repellent to non-smokers? How severe of assaults on smokers are justifiable before the public health costs of smoker injuries outweigh the long-term costs of smoking? And should the public health system really even pay for the medical costs incurred in justifiable assaults on smokers?
  • Turning designated outdoor smoking areas into hunting preserves for the greatest game: how much money for anti-smoking campaigns could be raised by letting non-smokers pay to hunt and shoot smokers? And what would be the savings to the public health system if smokers were shot before they got cancer? This research surveys an online panel of self-professed "rich eccentrics" who expressed a willingness to pay to hunt people, and an online panel of smokers to see how many would continue smoking if they were only allowed to smoke while in the game preserves. The paper estimates the amount of money that could be raised for anti-tobacco research if the government were not total tobacco-lobby neo-liberal shills who refused to allow progressive policies like hunting smokers despite the government's stated goal of a smokefree New Zealand by 2025.

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