Cigarette packs will have a collection of new designs come September 2012. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has decided on the final images that will serve as mandated warning labels on all cigarette packaging and advertisements in the United States.
The images are disturbing. They include a man smoking through a hole in his neck, healthy lungs juxtaposed with a diseased set, a cancer-ridden mouth filled with rotting teeth, and a dead body with autopsy stitches down its chest. A few of the images are less startling, including a man wearing an “I Quit” T-shirt, and a woman crying. Each warning label also contains an anti-smoking message like “Warning: Cigarettes are addictive,” or “Warning: Tobacco smoke causes fatal lung disease in nonsmokers.” [See editorial cartoons on healthcare.]
The FDA's website says the warnings are designed to "increase awareness of the specific health risks associated with smoking, such as death, addiction, lung disease, cancer, stroke and heart disease; encourage smokers to quit; and empower youth to say no to tobacco."
But are these gruesome labels a good idea?
U.S. News blogger Susan Milligan thinks not. “It’s not like the old days, when the dangers of smoking were largely unknown,” she writes, adding that the addictive nature of smoking means people know the risks and have a hard time stopping anyway. “So how much will shaming do?”
Other critics argue that the images are too disturbing—TV news stories warned viewers before airing the pictures, in case small children were in the room. What will happen when kids see smokers carrying these disturbing images around in public? Supporters say being disturbed may be just what kids need to shy away from trying a cigarette in the first place. [Check out a roundup of this month's best political cartoons.]
And, as CBS’s David W. Feeman reports, the U.S. labels will not be the most grisly in the world, and they will bring this country up to speed with others who have done a better job informing citizens of the dangers of smoking. After Canada implemented a similar warning label, Freeman writes, “nine out of 10 Canadians surveyed demonstrated a deeper knowledge of the health consequences of smoking. The smoking rate also fell to 20 percent from 26 percent.”
What do you think? Are the graphic new cigarette warning labels a good idea? Take the poll and post your thoughts below.
This poll is now closed, but the debate continues in the comments section.
Previously: Will Jon Huntsman impact the 2012 field?