A psychological study on smoking signs has shown that their constant presence can trigger smokers to light up.

As a sign that negates an activity it actually becomes a reminder to smokers to grab their next cigarette. Even with a smoker unaware that they have seen the signs it has an effect on their smoking addiction.

How it works: imagine I ask you to not imagine a tree, with dark brown bark, wonderfully bright green leaves sparkling in the sun, branches swaying in the wind… You get the point, you couldn’t keep the image of a tree out of your mind.

The study tested smokers by displaying a series of typical outdoor photos where the no smoking signs were displayed (not prominently) and a second set shown to smokers with the signs removed. The group that saw the photo set with smoking signs showed more stimulus towards smoking.

I found these signs on my way to work:


They were only a small portion of the signs I saw on my one-way commute. Add in the dozens of littered cigarette butts, shops with rack of cigarettes and lighters, and walking near others lighting up and we have created a smoker primed to light up.

More studies need to be done to find the overall effect on smoking rates, for example does limited smoking areas decrease the opportunity to light up significantly and therefore the quantity smoked by the community also decreases? Also, is there a form of no smoking signage that could lessen the stimulus?

Take a moment in your daily routine to count the signs near your house or work, the piles of cigarette butts, the number of ashtrays, how many people you see smoking, shops with cigarettes displayed, etc… If you are in a city, you may only want to count the number of instances for a few minutes as it grows quickly! Tell us in the comments section what experiment you did and your results.

Smoking is a hard addiction to beat but it is not unbeatable. I’ve been there and can help you overcome this addiction too.