As if it wasn't hard enough to quit smoking, now there's this:  According to a team of psychologists at Oxford University, 'No Smoking' signs actually ENCOURAGE smokers to light up. 

--First of all, the signs are everywhere these days.  And second, seeing the signs trigger a subconscious reaction where smokers start thinking of cigarettes, and then wanting them.  Makes sense. 

--According to head researcher Brian Earp, quote, "A lot of public health messages are framed in a negative way . . . say no to drugs, don't drink and drive, no smoking. 

--"What's interesting is the ironic effect of the negative image.  No smoking signs are meant to discourage an activity, but what happens is you get a kick back so that the very item that's supposed to be prohibited becomes more desirable." 

--The study basically used image association:  People who had seen images of the no-smoking signs were drawn favorably to other images related to smoking. 

--According to Brian, quote, "It's a significant effect which we think would have real life implications . . . When I say 'Don't think of a pink elephant,' I've just put the thought of a pink elephant in your head.'" 

--He says follow-up research proves it even further, and it'll be released soon. 

(Daily Mail)