Will people smoke less if they can’t see cigarettes?

That’s the goal of a new law recently proposed by New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg. It would require stores to hide cigarettes from the view of shoppers. The thinking is that if cigarettes are out of sight, then they’ll also be out of mind – and smokers will be less likely to buy them.

Believe it or not, Mayor Bloomberg has a lot of science on his side. For example:

  • According to a study in the journal Addiction, 25 percent of smokers said they’ve bought cigarettes after seeing a store display – even though they weren’t shopping for cigarettes!

  • And in a new survey, 1-in-3 smokers said removing cigarettes from store displays would make it “much easier to quit”.

That may sound far-fetched, but psychiatrists say hiding cigarettes makes a lot of sense. Because studies show that just seeing a cigarette – or a pack of them in a store - can be enough of a visual ‘trigger’ to make people think: “I’ve gotta smoke!”

In fact, that’s one reason why cigarette commercials were banned from TV.

Because research showed that images of people taking a drag off a cigarette were a big reason why many kids started smoking!

And that’s true of any addiction, by the way – including alcohol, gambling, and food. It’s why one of the first lessons people learn in rehab programs is to avoid visual triggers! So, Mayor Bloomberg’s hope is that if fewer people can see cigarettes, then they won’t have the urge to buy them – and more lives will be saved.

You may want to try it in your own life, and keep the things that tempt you – whether it’s candy or cigarettes – out of sight.