Cigarette labeling in America is getting a makeover courtesy of the new, “tougher” Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Right on the heels of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services new labeling of known cigarette additive styrene as a carcinogen last week, the FDA is implementing graphic images that highlight the damage habitual cigarette smoking does to the human body.
The images, the government hopes, will deter people from forming this dangerous habit of smoking cigarettes. Always looking for a conversation starter, the FDA will begin using pictures that rage from rotting teeth, to cancerous lungs, to the always morbid corpse shot no later than Fall of 2012. Relatively, these nine new images are tame in comparison to many other country’s labeling practices.
This campaign will mark the largest change in the government’s stance toward tobacco use in over thirty years. The FDA predicts the new ads will reduce the number of addicts by 213,000 by 2013, capitalizing off President Obama’s tougher stance on cigarette advertising to the nation’s youth. The FDA points to other nations such as Canada and Uruguay as models for the success of such harsh cigarette labeling.
The question must arise, will these labels help in America, particularly in a culture where most cigarette advertising comes from movies and music videos instead of commercials? Seriously, everyone, by a certain age, understands the dangers of gun ownership, but that doesn’t stop the widespread use of guns. Gun violence continues to increase. Why? Because guns, much like cigarettes are shown as cool in movies, video games, and many other pop culture outlets, many people don’t associate guns with murder, but protection. But from protection what? We’re not getting to the root of the problems surrounding these controversial debates. Let’s not even get started on the “your brain on drugs” commercials.
Even though many proponents reach to statistics in other countries that show positive results in response to tougher ads, those countries don’t have nearly as intense marketing and public relations industries as America. It is hard to combat powerful images of celebrities posing with cigarettes. Much like fast-food, as long as cigarettes are some what affordable and legal, smoking will continue to thrive because of the momentary relief it gives it’s user.
People are aware that tobacco kills over 400.000 people annually, and many have witnessed first-hand the complications, but no one thinks of their own mortality until it’s upon them. Thus labeling cigarettes cartons and individual boxes with these new labels seems to be equivalent to someone reminding a smoker of how bad it is to smoke. Yes, some might take heed to the warning, but most won’t until it’s too late.
FrugiVoice: What do think of the new cigarette labels? Are they too harsh? Or just right? Maybe not enough?