Scientists at Staffordshire University have found a cunning way to help young women stop smoking: by showing them a picture of what they would look like a 72 year old smoker.
The research, carried out by Professor Sarah Grogan, Professor David Clark-Carter, Keira Flett and other colleagues based at University of Leeds, Nottingham Trent University, University of Canberra and Stoke Primary Care Trust, measured the effects of using the computer ageing technology to show how the study participants would look at age 72 if they continued to smoke. They were also shown an image of what they would look like at the same age if they quit smoking.
In interviews, women reported being highly motivated to quit smoking as a result of the intervention and also felt more personal responsibility for quitting.
In a large scale study measuring attitudes towards smoking and perceived nicotine addiction, young women smokers who saw images of how they would age with and without smoking had a more positive attitude to quitting smoking compared to women smokers who did not see these images.
They also felt less addicted to nicotine after the intervention and were more likely to plan to give up smoking compared to women in the control group.
These studies suggest that appearance-related smoking interventions may be a useful addition to conventional quit smoking methods.
Professor Grogan, said: “Body image is a major concern for many young women. Our research tapped into this phenomenon and used these concerns positively to promote health. It is well documented that smoking ages the skin, but seeing the effects on their own faces had a marked impression on our respondents.
“Following this research, the University hopes that this technology will be rolled out across the UK to make smoking cessation more effective for young people”.