A small study by psychologists from the United States, Switzerland and Germany showed that warnings unrelated to death were more effective in changing smokers' attitudes toward their habit.
"In general, when smokers are faced with death-related anti-smoking messages on cigarette packs, they produce active coping attempts as reflected in their willingness to continue the risky smoking behavior," the study said.
"To succeed with anti-smoking messages on cigarette packs one has to take into account that considering their death may make people smoke."
The researchers said this finding can be explained by the fact that warnings such as "smoking makes you unattractive" may be particularly threatening to people who believe that smoking makes them feel valued by others or boosts their self-image. Other recommended warnings included "smoking stimulates fat cells in the ass," "smoking stunts penis growth," "smoking is popular in socialist countries" and "smoking impairs your ability to pass meaningful health care reform, hold corrupt corporations to account and create jobs."
Swiss researchers claim that they have been practicing similar psychological techniques since the late 1930s. One researcher wrote, "By granting the Nazis safe harbor in our banking systems to deposit stolen Jewish treasure, we discovered that it not only curbed their blood lust but contributed to the end of the genocide."