Regulating Cigarette Labels

Should the FDA use scare tactics to try to keep Americans from smoking cigarettes? That’s the question many people are weighing in on now. We may soon see scary and alarming pictures on all packs of cigarettes, as a way for us to be reminded of the dangers of smoking.

In Favor of the Pictures

The Federal Drug Administration has announced that it will impose new regulations on cigarette companies, that include the use of graphic photographs on packages. The photos are of disturbing consequences related to smoking, such as corpses, tracheotomies, and babies breathing in smoke, all designed to turn people off to smoking. Many people agree with the use of the pictures and say that it might help deter some people, especially new users, from lighting up. Seeing these pictures every time we pick up a pack must have some impact on people, and the goal is to save lives.

Opposed to the Labels

Those opposed to the new pictures say they are a waste of resources, and that they infringe on the cigarette companies’ right to advertise. The cigarette companies are planning to fight the regulations for those reasons, and because no other business has these kinds of restrictions placed on their advertising and labeling. Opponents are wondering if the FDA will soon move on to alcohol, prescription drugs, guns, and anything else we can buy that can be harmful. Will we soon see graphic pictures depicting the dangers of these other products?

We need to keep working to get the message out there that tobacco is harmful and addicting, but are these pictures going too far? Who of us, even those that have no intention of taking up smoking, wants to see these gory images? And who wants to have to explain to their young children why those pictures are on someone’s cigarettes?

The main point here is that we want to keep more people from becoming addicted to smoking, and help those that want to quit to do so. An estimated 443,000 Americans die every year from smoking-related complications. It is a big problem, and we certainly want to keep our young people from starting in the first place. But are these labels a bit extreme? The plan right now is that the FDA will accept comments from the public about these labels for the next few months. Then early next year the photos will be decided upon, and cigarette companies will have until October, 2012 to implement them.

Cigarette smoking is less popular today than it was in the past. We no longer find it acceptable to smoke in many public places. Some states even have cigarette bans in whole cities. But it is still legal, and many people have no intention of quitting. We need to find out how to decrease the deaths and illnesses caused by smoking, without hindering someone’s right to smoke.


One picture is worth a thousand smokes?

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