Smoke This: FDA Unveils Graphic Images To Be Placed On Cigarettes

I have long been critical of the new disgusting images that various governments have required to be placed on tobacco products. Now, the FDA has issued our own gallery of horrors from diseased lungs to a stitched up corpse.

I have a great aversion to smoking but I find it insulting to smokers to force them to carry around these images. Polls show an exceedingly high number of smokers and non-smokers fully understand the dangers. This is an effort to make cigarettes less glamorous for teens. However, it forces everyone to carry around these graphic images, including adults who are aware of the risks and still choose to smoke. With a majority of non-smokers, it has the feel of majoritarian abuse of an increasingly insular minority.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius stated: “These labels are frank, honest and powerful depictions of the health risks of smoking and they will help.” That is certainly true, but what about those frank, honest, and powerful depictions of cirrhotic liver for alcohol products or dead obese people for soda cans or cans of Cool Whip?

Ironically, some of the same people supporting these labels are opposed to new laws requiring women to see pictures of fetuses before abortions. What if state government required graphic pictures to be shown with abortion services? There are a host of areas where legislators may wish to harass individuals in the name of education.

I strongly support efforts to curtail smoking but, so long as tobacco is legal, I find this images to border on harassment of smokers. Smoking is declining and more businesses are barring smokers from their employee ranks. There are considerable pressures on smokers and ample educational efforts that currently exist. Forcing them to carry around pictures of dead people and diseased livers is a new and disturbing option for government regulation. I am not aware of any other program where the government is clearly mandating a national warning system designed more to embarrass than to educate citizens. There are a host of ways the government can force people to carry embarrassing images and it may even be effective. However, that does not mean it is a proper use of regulatory authority.

Roughly 20% of the population still smokes and that number has not changed dramatically in the last five years. This appears an effort to squeeze out another five percent through harassing images. Yet, we have done remarkably well in the sharp reductions in smoking. We always knew that there would be a small minority of citizens who will not be deterred by high taxes and high health costs. Once these people are fully informed of the risk, they have a right to make the choice allowed by law without harassing images. By the way, really cool teens can buy really cool pouches for their cigarette packages.

Source: CNN

24 thoughts on “Smoke This: FDA Unveils Graphic Images To Be Placed On Cigarettes”

  1. Tony,

    “People will quickly become so immune to these images they will be joking about them.”

    They already are . . .

  2. Recently I wrote:

    The drug laws allow the state to grow and actually profit from prohibition. Basic rights are destroyed, students leave school for the lucrative drug economy, police become paramilitarized, law enforcement and the judiciary is corrupted, drugs become more concentrated and dangerous, while drug prices rise and crime skyrockets to pay those prices.

    Today I read about krokodil – “crocodile” – which makes crystal meth look like an energy bar. No doubt drug prohibition will eventually bring this to the United States. From The Independent:

    Krokodil: The drug that eats junkies”

    In the city’s main drug treatment centre, Artyom Yegorov talks of the devastation that krokodil is causing. “Desomorphine causes the strongest levels of addiction, and is the hardest to cure,” says the young doctor, sitting in a treatment room in the scruffy clinic, below a picture of Hugh Laurie as Dr House.

    “With heroin withdrawal, the main symptoms last for five to 10 days. After that there is still a big danger of relapse but the physical pain will be gone. With krokodil, the pain can last up to a month, and it’s unbearable. They have to be injected with extremely strong tranquilisers just to keep them from passing out from the pain.”

  3. Tony C. (posted by our host) — perhaps you missed it…

    Re: “Repeated exposure to shocking imagery just grows callousness and disdain. People will quickly become so immune to these images they will be joking about them.”

    Sadly, true… Lots of “callousness and disdain” goin’ around these days… and getting worse, I suspect…

  4. People used to carry cigarette cases; not just the pack. Remember some packs had a kind of thin cardboard flip-top pack? I can see a new market for those returning, just transfer the cigarettes to a same-size carrier. Or, how about a reusable thin plastic sleeve for the pack that covers the ugly?

    This law just created demand for a new creative outlet; pack sleeves and boxes that send a message.

    Plus it won’t last long, human psychology is against it. Repeated exposure to shocking imagery just grows callousness and disdain. People will quickly become so immune to these images they will be joking about them.

  5. Thanks for the links, lottakatz, including the lifeline to Keith, via Ready-TV. I’d miss a lot were it not for this blog…

  6. Teenagers won’t think the pictures apply to them. By the time they have a realistic view of the health consequences of their actions, they’ll be addicted.

  7. There’s a lot of research on this sort of thing. Fear-based campaigns, at best, have only short-term effects. In addition, people who tend to take risks (i.e., people likely to smoke) tend to be unaffected by these appeals or make fun of them, view them as talismans of being “cool”, etc. It took us 40 years from the Surgeon General’s report to getting restitution from Big Tobacco. the money should be used for more obvious social uses, like paying for the consequences of marketing and addictive product.

    “Oh my, I’ve just been worried about the flooding …..

    “Flooding Brings Worries Over Two Nuclear Plants”

    “KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As record floodwaters along the Missouri River drench homes and businesses, concerns have grown about keeping a couple of notable structures dry: two riverside nuclear power plants in Nebraska.”

  9. I suspicion that this new regulation will at some point cause a return to the use of opaque plastic cases in which people will carry their coffin nails. Probably they will be made by slave children in far off climes.

  10. you could make it where 1 out of every 10,000 cigarettes will explode with enough force to blow your head off when lit.

    and everyone would swear they’ll quit when they get to 9,500

  11. From article: “Forcing them to carry around pictures of dead people and diseased livers is a new and disturbing option for government regulation. I am not aware of any other program where the government is clearly mandating a national warning system designed more to embarrass than to educate citizens. ”

    Those labels would cause me great and ongoing emotional distress. Being an addict I would continue to buy cigarettes but be emotionally assaulted every time I reached for my pack of cigarettes. I would also feel great embarrassment every time I did so in public.

    Who can I sue?

    Also, if we want to get into truth in advertising and discouraging harmful personal behaviour then I think that it should be mandated that every political ad be introduced with an image of a large, mud covered pig feeding from a communal trough. Fair is fair after all.

    Though associating a beast so noble as the pig with politicians does make me feel kinda’ bad for the pig. Srsly, it does 🙂

  12. Here is an example where I believe government oversteps its mandate. I think as citizens we people could choose to outlaw cigarette smoking, but if we do not do that, then the government has no business either encouraging or discouraging behavior it finds offensive. Put it up for a vote, get a decision, and shut up about it. The government is not our nanny.

  13. As much as Megacorp may want you to think the “McRibb” or the “Tripple Layer Mucho Nachos” are “Addictive” , they actually aren’t. In fact any zaney advertizing that claims anything is “addictive” is just plain fucking lying. I drink soda and eat fast food occaisionally and I’m fit.
    Cigarrettes actually are addicting, and for years Phillip Morris and US Tobacco were doing things like spiking there products with amonia to make them more addictive. And of course these corporations still spend millions trying to convince people to buy this crap.
    If they they wanted to put rat poisen in Tootsie Rolls they wouldn’t be allowed to do it unless they paided millions directly and indirectly to their whores in Congress. Alcohol, guns, cars, and yes junk food and soda do not kill people (innocent people in the case of guns) when used correctly and as designed.

    Tobacco when used correctly does kill people.

    I think banning smoking in bars and parks is stupid. I think banning it on buses, planes and public buildings makes perfect sense. And lets be honest, smokers through their butts where ever they hell they please. If you looks at the side walk in any town you’ll see they same thing, gum and cigarrette butts. The gum is from kids for the most part, the butts are from jerk-offs you really don’t car if they make everybody else’s walk to work a little filthier each day. So smoke ’em if you got ’em. Kill yourself if you want to.
    You get no sympathy for the labels.

  14. I would LOVE to see picturse of fat peoples rolls on soda cans and snack wrappers! Why am I the bad guy when I reply to an obese person, “I stink? Like cigarettes? Beats smelling like bad meat-or is that good cheese?” I know that I am less of a person for saying this but….good god! I never ever tell a fat person to diet (unless they are spilling over the seat next to me in a plane) out of the blue. But I find being fat a choice to most people. You can unhand that twinkie just as fast as I can snuff a butt. I am too lazy to look up stats but I am sure that being fat is as harmful in the long run as my smoking habit is.

  15. Anti-smoking has simply gone evangelical. By the time you are banning smoking in open air parks you are breaking the cred-o-meter.

  16. Good…Now when are they going to put pictures and warning instructions on a condom package?

    And I smoke….

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