|FDA packs fear with proposed warnings|
|Written by Mason Souza, Daily Vidette Senior Staff|
|Sunday, 28 November 2010 22:35|
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is hoping graphic warnings on cigarette boxes will catch smokers’ attention and get them to think twice before lighting up.
The FDA recently revealed proposed designs for the labels, which run across half of the front and the back of cigarette boxes. Images include a man smoking with a hole in his throat and a dead man with a long chest wound.
Starting Oct. 22, 2012, retailers will only be able to sell packs featuring the new warnings.
“It’s a little bit premature to try and guess what the impacts will be,” Melaney Arnold, spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Public Health, said. “We have heard that there has been success in other countries from this so as far as trying it here in the United States we think that this is something that has the potential to be good.”
The U.S. is following over 30 countries that require images warning against smoking on their cigarette packages.
Dr. Jean Swearingen, medical director of Student Health Services, said she approves the new warnings, but they are only working one front in helping people quit or abstain from smoking.
“Increasing the warnings [is] just part of the effort to prevent new smokers and help current smokers to quit,” she said. “Increasing the price, raising the taxes, removing advertising in any form, eliminating smoking in movies and making smoking cessation products affordable, safe and effective are other methods that could decrease smoking.”
Messages can be as persuasive and laws can be as strict as possible, but it is often up to the smoker whether or not they will quit.
“For most people, it takes a variety of approaches, such as counseling and medication, but the smoker must want to quit for any approach to be effective,” Swearingen said.
Although the new warnings do not seem to have a specific target audience, Arnold said they may be effective in getting would-be smokers’ attention.
“Obviously when you’re dealing with a younger population, there’s a better chance that those people have not started smoking, so perhaps a warning label on the side would help them choose not to begin smoking,” she said.
This idea would be proven true if the warnings can have an impact on young people before the idea of smoking being cool reaches them.
Although legislation has reigned in cigarette advertising, especially when targeting young people, Swearingen said “there is still too much glamour associated with smoking” that gets fed to young people through the media.
The tobacco industry’s response to the new warnings is that they would hinder business by relegating the cigarette brand logos to a small space of the pack.