FDA pushing for new cigarette labels

Nov. 12 the FDA announced it wanted to update the labels used on cigarette packaging to send a stronger message of how bad smoking is for people.

Here is what USA TODAY reported in the lead of its article about the issue:

“By October 2012, all cigarette packs in the USA will show graphic images and stern warnings about the dangers of smoking, the Food and Drug Administration announced Wednesday.

The possible pictures include women blowing smoke in children’s faces, diseased lungs, a cancer-riddled mouth and a smoker puffing through a tracheotomy hole in his neck. They will cover half the space on packaging and will also be shown on all cigarette ads, FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said.”

The pictures, which can be found at http://www.fda.gov/TobaccoProducts/Labeling/CigaretteProductWarningLabels/default.htm, are very graphic and seem to be trying to scare people into quitting.

Here are a few of the ones that struck me as the most provocative:

via FDA.gov
via FDA.gov
via FDA.gov

These are just proposals, and there are several others that might get used too.

USA TODAY said, “The warnings on cigarette packs, such as “Cigarette Smoke Contains Carbon Monoxide,” haven’t been changed in 25 years . . . A lawsuit filed by several tobacco companies could block the new warnings. ‘We are challenging the legality of requiring larger and graphic warnings,’ David Howard, a spokesman for R.J. Reynolds, the country’s second-largest tobacco company, said Wednesday.”

Before anything actually happens, though, the FDA wants the public’s help in making the decision.

CNN.com reported, “The FDA wants you to weigh in on which labels should be used on cigarette cartons.  We get a say!  You can start weighing in tomorrow morning by going to this site:  http://www.fda.gov/TobaccoProducts/Labeling/CigaretteProductWarningLabels/default.htm.”

I haven’t voted yet, but I plan too. I think these warning labels are distasteful. They aren’t going to change any behavior for the long-term.

At most, I can see people simply being embarrassed by the packaging and hiding the cigarette packs, but they will continue to smoke.

There could be a few people who will be shamed into quitting because they don’t want to face the clerk selling the smokes to them at the grocery or convenience store.

Smoking is an addiction, though. A gross picture or strong wording isn’t going to suddenly cure a smoker of cravings for nicotine. If you think that’s all it will take, you need to wake up and quit living in Wonderland with Alice.

Furthermore, how are these proposed labels fair to the cigarette manufacturers? Potentially have of their packaging would have to be covered with a government-mandated label. That’s too much government oversight I think.

Sure, a warning label, such as the one on cigarettes now, is OK. It doesn’t take up have the packaging and ruin the brand-recognition these companies have worked to build.

And yes, that should be taken into account because last I checked our country functioned with a Free Enterprise System. Government involvement should be limited in business, even if the product is harmful. The government can have its say by enforcing the current labeling system, but to incorporate the proposed labels is too far.

Does the government really think the people of this country are so stupid they need big, obnoxious labels to realize smoking can hurt or kill them?

If so, we’ve got bigger problems than people smoking.

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About toddvogts 771 Articles
My name is Todd Vogts. I am an assistant professor of media. I like the color green, riding my motorcycle, and being with my family and friends. A good book is a perfect companion for me any time, and I'm a published author and journalist. Visit my website at www.toddvogts.com and follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/toddvogts.