FDA Proposes Graphic Warning for Cigarette Packaging

Sara - posted on 11/10/2010 ( 34 moms have responded )

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http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2010/11/...

Now that the Food and Drug Administration has broad powers to regulate tobacco, it's starting to flex its muscles.

Today, the agency unveiled a proposal that would add large, dramatic warnings to cigarette packages and advertisements in a move to discourage people from smoking.

The Tobacco Control Act requires the FDA to come up with regulations for tougher labeling of cigarettes. Now you can see the agencies' ideas and comment on them through early January. Final regulations are due next June.


Under the law, these warnings will have to appear on both the front and back of cigarette packs, taking up half the real estate on each side of the label.

In big ads, they're supposed to occupy at least 20 percent of the space. For smaller ads, there will be alternative anti-smoking messages with bright logos.

Will they work? Some research shows that bold graphic warnings do a better job than text alone in communicating risks and affecting behavior. Other countries, such as Canada, have blazed this trail already.

Yet, the scare tactics can sometimes backfire. One study that tested warnings on a bunch of smokers, who happened to be psychology students, found that when smoking was a big part of someone's self-esteem, they weren't deterred by warnings that cigarettes could kill them. In fact, paradoxically, the death warnings might make them want to smoke more.

For those people, the researchers say, it might be more effective to dent that self-esteem with messages that say things like "Smoking makes you unattractive."

Almost two decades ago, comedian (and smoker) Denis Leary poked fun at smokers' ability to ignore warnings in a scathing, very unscientific and yet on-the-mark bit:

"It doesn't matter how big the warnings are. You could have cigarettes that were called the warnings. You could have cigarettes that come in a black pack, with a skull and crossbone on the front, called "Tumors," and smokers would line up around the block saying, "I can't wait to get my hands on these [bleeping] things".



The link has a picture of the kind of packaging they're talking about. What do you all think? Would it help people to quit or not start smoking at all?

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Isobel - posted on 11/10/2010

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Different things motivate different people...therefore it is necessary to use as many different types of motivation as possible to get as many people to quit as possible. :)

Jodi - posted on 11/10/2010

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Australia has had these graphic warnings for years. I don't think they work, not really. I am not sure if it is in every state, but where I live cigarettes can now not be displayed in the shop, you actually have to go in and know what to ask for. However, I know that plain packaging for the cigarettes is also on the cards.....

I don't think these measures are necessarily aimed at people who already smoke, I think they are more aimed at reducing the uptake of smoking amongst young people. I do know that smoking has decreased a lot here in Australia, I think it has reduced more because it is less socially acceptable. You can't go anywhere and have a cigarette these days. All indoor venues are smoke free, and even many outdoor areas. Smokers feel like social lepers. That's how to stop it.

Jackie - posted on 11/10/2010

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Why has this whole community become a huge anti-smoking forum???

To answer the OP, I'd probably look at the pictures and the warnings as I'm lighting up to get my 'fix' and think how stupid I am for smoking. For anyone who doesn't get it...

NOBODY THAT SMOKES THINKS IT'S OK TO SMOKE! NOBODY SMOKES BECAUSE IT MAKES YOUR TEETH LOOK GOOD, BREATH, CLOTHES, AND HAIR SMELL GOOD, LUNGS AND THROAT FEEL GOOD. WE KNOW IT'S DISGUSTING.

"harassing me about my smoking could be hazardous to YOUR health!"

Krista - posted on 11/10/2010

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Yeah, the teeth one is awesome. I also liked the one with the droopy cigarette, saying, "Smoking causes impotence."

Nah, they never stopped me from smoking. Would they stop someone from STARTING? Probably not, because my guess is that most smokers start not by buying their own packs, but by bumming a drag or two from a friend, so they wouldn't really notice the pack anyway.

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34 Comments

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Dana - posted on 11/11/2010

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These warning labels are targeting those who want to quit and those that don't already smoke, not those that are addicted with no mind to quit.

Charlie - posted on 11/10/2010

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I know a lot of people i know quit as soon as they jacked the prices .

Stifler's - posted on 11/10/2010

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Is this a thread from 10 years ago. This happened long ago in Aus. The pics are gross but I don't think it's decreased the amount of people who smoke at all. They also hiked the price of smokes up and I still don't think people are going to quit because of it, just let their kids go without more so they can still smoke.

Jodi - posted on 11/10/2010

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I used to manage a gas station directly across the street from a college campus, for one month we took down all advertisements for cigarettes (it was a local raise tobacco awareness thing) We lost nearly half of our tobacco sales in that time!!!! I wish we had a law the prohibited advertisements.
I also think there should be more truth campaigns out there, they're humorous while being putting the nasty truth out there. I think it can't hurt to put these on a pack of smokes, but perhaps they should show 30 year old women with decayed and yellow teeth, leather skin and nasty nails...might get more teens and young women's attention...

Charlie - posted on 11/10/2010

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I totally agree Laura with your last post !

I have to say in my circle of friends it was a massive joke because one of them was cast as the gangreen foot !
No he didnt have gangreen .

Chrystal - posted on 11/10/2010

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I don't think it will help people to quit. I think if you are a smoker than you are going to smoke no matter what.

Caitlin - posted on 11/10/2010

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I used to smoke.. it wasn't the pictures that got me to quit, it was the fact they were bloody pricey! I don't think it will help honestly.

Charlie - posted on 11/10/2010

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I would say most people quit due to the change in mentality towards smoking and the outrages prices in Australia ~

Isobel - posted on 11/10/2010

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I don't know...I know a ton of people who have quit in the last few years...it's probably a combination of taxes, information, hiding the cigarettes (Here they have to cover the cigarettes behind the counter...no display or ads), and the warnings...and anything that stops my kids from wanting to smoke is OK with me.

I hate that I smoke, and I am down to 3 or so a day and will quit soon, I have no problem with using marketing for good instead of evil ;)

Jodi - posted on 11/10/2010

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We used to have those Loureen, because I hated the kids seeing the packet, so I wanted to cover it up :)

Charlie - posted on 11/10/2010

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We have them in Australia , they don't work , smokers i know pay no attention to it or buy those nifty little ciggie cases .

Amie - posted on 11/10/2010

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"Smoking is down in Canada though."



I honestly think that's because smoking has gotten so freaking expensive! I started when I was a teen. What I pay for smokes now, used to get me two packs.



Stupid taxes.



Edit to add: Partially because of the bans everywhere too. For people who already smoke, they don't really care about the bans. I went to see a comic with my husband a few months ago. He made the comment that Canadian smokers are insane, even if it's -40 we'll head outside to have a smoke. LOL

Bonnie - posted on 11/10/2010

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It won't work. As Amie said, they have been doing something similar in Canada for a while now and honestly, the people that I know of who smoked before the images were put on the packages still smoke now.

Dana - posted on 11/10/2010

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There's a huge difference between those who are addicted and have no desire to quit or those who haven't started. As someone who wanted to quit smoking, I had an article on my refrigerator about how smoking affects women, one of them being a shorter life span by 7 yrs. Seeing that all the time helped me, so I think seeing nasty shit on a pack of cigs would have solidified me wanting to quit sooner also.

Jocelyn - posted on 11/10/2010

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I've been staring at those graphic warnings for years now (in Canada) and those pictures have never prevented me from starting again and again (I quit about once a year :S)

Rosie - posted on 11/10/2010

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i dont' think it would work. i think you'd have to be living under a rock, under a bridge, underneath the water to not know smoking is horrid for you. that still doesn't stop people from buying that pack.
i think i like the idea of making it seem more socially unacceptable. unfortuantely people worry about what people think more than they do the potential risks that they can't see the damage from immediately. we are a society of immediate gratification, and unfortunately the effects of smoking on your health aren't seen immediately. so people are still gonna smoke, unfortunately.

Jackie - posted on 11/10/2010

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@ Krista - I'm not taking it personally. I just want everyone to be aware that I (we) don;t smoke because we think it's the best decision we ever made. We know it sucks.

Jenny - posted on 11/10/2010

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It is all part of making it socially unacceptable. It is effective and I totally support. As Becky said, smoking rates are declining in Canada. And we did it without having to make anything illegal for consenting adults. I started smoking at 12 and smoked for 12 years. With a relapse or two, I'm now totally quit for 3 years and will never start again.

Of course packaging will make a difference. There's billions of dollars spent on package design by companies. There's a corresponding payoff or they wouldn't do it. Marketing IS effective.

Krista - posted on 11/10/2010

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Why has this whole community become a huge anti-smoking forum???

Try not to take it personally. Often what happens is someone will post a topic about one thing, which then tends to springboard into other related discussions. Right now, it's smoking. At other times, it's been other topics.

Dana - posted on 11/10/2010

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I think it's great. Of course it's not going to stop smokers who already are addicted but, I think it will make those who think of starting think twice.

Becky - posted on 11/10/2010

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Smoking is down in Canada though. I don't know whether that's due to the warnings on the cigarette packages, the bans on smoking in public places, or just that people are finally wising up. I've never been a smoker, so I can't say whether they would influence me to quit.

Jackie - posted on 11/10/2010

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I started smoking very young because I though I looked cool and by the time I was old enough to buy them (to see all the warnings) it was already too late.
I quit 3 months before I got pregnant with my daughter and when she was 4 months old, I was drinking a beer and took a drag off of someone elses and that was all she wrote

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If people are too stupid to understand the dangers from the bloody great SMOKING KILLS printed on every packet I don't think they are going to be deterred by a picture!

Jenn - posted on 11/10/2010

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Yeah, it's been like that for quite a while in Canada, but it doesn't stop people from buying them - or at least I've never heard anyone say "hey, that looks gross, I think NOW I'll quit!"

Amie - posted on 11/10/2010

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Canada did this a few years ago. Some of the pictures are NASTY!! The one on my pack right now shows a bunch of teeth all rotted out and black. =S

Hasn't deter me from smoking, I know what it can do. It may stop new smokers from starting but probably not enough.

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