Would a warning label stop you from fuelling up?

A national environmental group wants municipalities to slap warning labels about climate change on the nozzles of gas pumps. But would it make a difference? We ask a marketer who has studied warning labels.
The national environmental group Our Horizon wants municipal governments to require gas stations to put warning labels on gas pump nozzles. (YouTube)

Would warning labels stop drivers from buying gas? Our Horizon hopes so. The environmental group partners with students across the country, petitioning local governments to force gas stations to use labels. Like cigarette warnings, the labels feature pictures and phrases about the possible effects of climate change. Most recently, the District of West Vancouver agreed to support such a proposal, and to take it to a conference of B.C. municipalities. 

Kelley Main says one challenge with warning labels like this is they come too late-- if someone has already pulled up to a gas pump, chances are they're going to buy gas. The marketing professor says campaigns to change behaviour need to offer easy ways to change: for example "drive less" instead of "don't buy gas right now." 

But, she says, it is possible to change behaviours, so students with campaigns like these shouldn't give up. 


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