Women smokers shocked into giving up habit

Example age progression image from APRIL Software

SEEING the effect smoking will have on their faces shocks women into giving up the habit, research from Staffordshire University has revealed.

Using state-of-the-art morphing technology, researchers have been able to produce images of how smokers will age if they continue to smoke and if they stop.

The technique has been so successful that over two thirds of participants in the project said they will quit smoking as a direct consequence of seeing how their appearance will change.

Professor Sarah Grogan, Project Lead and Professor of Health Psychology, said: “Using state-of-the-art age progression software we have been able to take a picture of women’s faces and show them how they will age if they smoked and if they stopped.

“We found that women were very concerned about the impact of ageing on their faces in general and in particular the additional impact of smoking on their skin.

“Many experienced a physical shock reaction, including reports of nausea, to seeing how they would age if they continued to smoke.

“And they reported being highly motivated to quit smoking as a result of the intervention and many said that they would take active steps to quit having seen how they would look if they continued to smoke.”

The research has been funded by Stoke-on-Trent NHS Primary Care Trust (PCT). It has involved 47 women aged between 18 and 34 years of age.

As well as Professor Grogan, the other members of the research team at Staffordshire University are Keira Flett, Research Assistant, and Professor David Clark-Carter.

They plan to retest the research participants, six months after they took part in the intervention, to determine whether they continued to smoke. But from the success of initial feedback, it is hoped the technology can be used more widely.

Professor Grogan said: “This is the first research investigating age-progression morphing software in this country, and we’re hoping that eventually the findings can be implemented in stop smoking services across the UK.”

A paper on the research, entitled Women Smokers' Experiences of an Age-appearance Anti-smoking Intervention: A Qualitative Study, has been published today, Monday, December 6, in the British Journal of Health Psychology, published by BPS Journals in partnership with Wiley-Blackwell.

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