FDA to put out smoking appeal

June 24, 2011

by Taylor Stephens, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Breaking news: smoking cigarettes will kill you. No, really, they hold a gun to your head and force you to smoke them until you die.

Then again, dying from cigarettes could be caused by a conscious will to smoke. A will that has tried to be thwarted in the past by numerous anti-marketing ploys, and the new anti-smoking campaign is no different.

Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration announced that effective fall 2012 cigarette packages must display images of what prolonged usage of cigarettes can do to the body. Among the images are diseased lungs, rotted teeth, a woman holding a baby surrounded by smoke and a geriatric man with a breathing apparatus attached to his face. The images must take up half of the front and back of the package and include a national quit smoking hotline number, according to FOX News.

That’s not all. The warnings must also be clear and present in all advertisements by cigarette companies.

The article states that the warning labels were a part of the law passed in 2009 that allows the federal government to regulate tobacco.

What the federal government fails to realize is that just because you try to scare someone into not doing something doesn’t mean that person is going to listen. This is the equivalent of putting pictures of fat people on Twinkie boxes with a warning label stating “WARNING: Eating can cause obesity.”

“What?! Twinkies aren’t as dangerous as cigarettes!”

In 2000, poor diet including obesity and physical inactivity caused 400,000 U.S. deaths, which is comparable to the 435,000 U.S. deaths caused by tobacco, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The leading causes of death were heart disease, cancer and strokes. At the same time the leading underlying preventable causes of death were tobacco, poor diet and physical activity and alcohol. Though 35,000 more people dying of tobacco over obesity is no insignificant amount, it remains to be seen how obesity is not viewed as being equally as dangerous as smoking.

Seeing how having a Twinkie isn’t nearly as much of a health risk as having a cigarette, it’s obvious why obesity isn’t viewed as dangerous when comparing it to cigarettes. However, that doesn’t mean the pictures on the cigarettes should be taken lightly.

Let’s be honest, the inclusion of these pictures is tasteless and ultimately fruitless. Young people of this generation have been told by parents, through videos and pictures shown in drug education classes as well as other outside sources that cigarettes are dangerous, but still 3.4 million high school students and 43 million adults are regular smokers. You could paint pictures in the sky of someone slowly dying while smoking, but the statistics that show an increase of underage smokers shows it wouldn’t decrease the rate of young people becoming smokers.

Not to say that these images won’t potentially stop a few new smokers from starting, but those who have smoked regularly for years are well aware of the danger and keep coming back.

Still, the FDA is really going for this stop smoking spiel. There won’t be a convenience or drug store in America that doesn’t show grotesque images of what could become of long-term smokers.


Taylor Stephens is a senior journalism major from Bossier City who serves as editor for The Tech Talk. Email comments to tds026@latech.edu.