Thursday, June 23, 2011

Updated FDA Cigarette Warning Labels Meant to Shock

If reports of far-off diseases, bad breath, and hormonal imbalances don’t deter smokers from their addictive daily habit, perhaps the recently released warning labels will paint a more persuasive picture. The nine images ranging from an infected mouth-sore to a blue-tinted corpse with autopsy scars  lining the chest are meant to prevent potential smokers from lighting up and to scare current puffers into quitting.

These re-vamped labels feature graphic images in place of the simple stern warning we have become accustomed to seeing. The updated warnings will be required on all cartons sold in the US by 2012. Although “Big Tobacco” is aggressively defending its product, health officials are praising the dynamic, new approach.

Within the next few months, all cigarette packaging will feature one of the nine explicit pictures and the surgeon general’s warning alongside a phone number for a smoking cessation program. Additionally, all glamorized, pro-smoking marketing must display a juxtaposed image from the FDA on the upper 20% of the advertisement. Talk about conflicting messages!

But is this enough? Most smokers are aware of the dangers involved in their habit and, for the most part, choose to ignore the risks.

These updated, graphic images rely on their shock-value to highlight the dangers of lighting up and yet, in the age of social media, there is very little that shocks the American public anymore. Although an initial fascination might surround the images, those who are truly entrenched in the habit will most likely look the other way when shelling out money for a pack. Hopefully, the images will have the greatest effect on young people facing peer pressure to smoke and prevent them from getting hooked.

Is this an effective anti-smoking campaign, or will it fall on deaf ears?

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