Introduction: According to the attentional myopia model, salient cues that serve to inhibit behavior can be especially effective under conditions of limited attention. A small field study tested the implications of this model for smoking reduction. Methods: Twenty-three undergraduate smokers were exposed to a prominent health warning for 2 5-day experimental phases, with phase order counterbalanced across participants. During one phase, participants simply viewed the warning at regular intervals. During the other phase, participants viewed the warning for the same duration but also simultaneously performed a distracting cognitive load task. Results: Participants in the phase that combined a health warning with cognitive load reported smoking significantly fewer cigarettes and taking significantly fewer puffs of smoke as compared to a baseline comparison phase-a reduction in smoking not observed in the absence of cognitive load. Conclusions: Sources of attentional distraction may heighten the impact of salient smoking warnings, resulting in significant reductions in smoking.
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© The Author 2014.