On Wednesday, 11/11/10 the FDA reported that it intends to print larger, graphic warning images on cigarette packages. While most cigarette boxes contain a variety of worded warnings as of now, they intend to include a large picture and a more blatantly worded warning similar to those used in Europe for over 20 years.
“SMOKING KILLS YOU” was one of the first and most obvious warnings that I ever saw on a cigarette package. Printed in a bold, easily read font, Ireland’s version of a Marlboro pack screamed that you were absolutely killing yourself long before America’s FDA ever started with anything more than “Quitting Smoking Now Greatly Reduces Serious Risks to Your Health”, or “Smoking By Pregnant Women May Result in Fetal Injury, Premature Birth, and Low Birth Weight”. Why the US FDA took so long to follow suit with Europe is a mystery. Chalk it up to red tape.
Right now the FDA is asking you and me to go to their website, follow the links, and vote for our favorite pictures and wording. Then they’ll use the most popular (or unpopular?) graphics to warn smokers every day that “Smoking ‘Can’ Kill You”, ” Cigarettes Cause Cancer”, and “Cigarettes Cause Fatal Lung Disease”. At this point it’s silly to think that most Americans don’t know the consequences of smoking. Many have already quit. So why ask average Americans (smokers and non-smokers) to choose the images that they’ll most hate to see? Or most love to see? What’s the point? How much money will all of this cost Americans? Why not just go the Irish route and use their motto? If you can read, you’ll know what’s up. Add a skull and cross-bones, and you’ve got the universal poison symbol. Who doesn’t know that one?
When I was in school we had a no-smoking week when we all learned about smoking, what it does to the body, and how to go home to tel our folks all about how we wished they’d quit smoking. In my case, it actually worked, though it took more than 10 more years for my father to quit. Coincidentally, he’d quit for more than a week, lost lots of weight and looked great when he died of a sudden heart attack. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it? Is nicotine withdrawal that nasty?
The FDA should “just do it”, and get it over with. It’s a silly waste of time and money to poll us Americans. We’d probably choose the most ineffective and unoffensive of the graphics, anyway. But if you’re curious and want to see what they’re proposing, go here: http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm233258.htm
If you’re even more curious (and well informed), check out the link about E-Cigarettes on the same page. Turns out that they might be just as lethal as regular cigarettes. What’s next…warnings on the supposedly healthy alternative?