Warnings on cigarette packs too much information

One of the new photos that will be required on cigarette packs by 2012. (Photo source: FDA press release)

Let me state right off the bat that I am not a smoker. I’ve never been a smoker. I hate cigarette smoke. I hate it when someone smokes near me or smokes and then comes near me. Smokers have no idea how much their breath smells and the stench of cigarette smoke hangs on their clothes, in their hair, on their skin. (In the interest of full disclosure, I equally hate strongly scented candles and when people douse themselves in extremely noxious cologne.)

I am also married to a smoker and have a smoking daughter and mother and extended family members. I am a non-smoker in cigarette land.

Having said that, I have to comment on the new FDA warning labels that will be required for all cigarette packages by 2012.

If you missed the story, cigarette packs – which already carry warning labels about cancer and nicotine addiction, in addition to hefty taxes designed to deter smokers from smoking – will now be adorned with gruesome photos of rotting teeth, diseased lungs, dying smokers hooked to oxygen and even an actual corpse.

I”m not sure how other non-smokers feel about this, but I say that this is just one more example of governmental interference.

Yes, I am a non-smoker and I am against warnings on cigarette packs. I mean, what other product that is sold legally in this country is required by the government to advertise all of the reasons why you shouldn’t buy it? Not fast food. Not soda. Not cars or clothes or household appliances. Imagine if other products had the same advertising requirements that cigarettes do.

The next time you went to McDonalds, your 1/2 gallon of soda would come with a big fat gut emblazoned on the cup and the workers would be required to convince you to opt for milk instead of Coke.

Your next new car would come with a required list of all of the dangers of driving, along with photos of crushed bodies, tangled metal and other bloody gore, and a list of other methods of transportation that the government deems safer.

Every piece of produce in the supermarket would have a tag listing the reasons why you shouldn’t buy it, from cancer causing pesticides to genetically modified cells to bacteria and other contaminants picked up on its journey from the other side of the world to your grocery cart.

Your new carpeting would come with a label explaining that you shouldn’t buy it because all of those petrochemicals used to make the rug cause cancer and breathing problems.

Hell, your next new summer bathing suit would come with a mirrored tag that allowed you to see for yourself how ridiculous you look crammed into spandex with your ass hanging out.

In fact, every product we buy could have some warning label listing reasons why you should’t buy it. Not that it would work.  People who smoke already know that it’s going to kill them. So making it seem even more gruesome isn’t really going to deter them. So why do it? So we feel better, like we’re doing something proactive to fight a declared evil.

(And it’s another trick the government uses to focus your attention in one direction while it works behind the scenes in another. War in Libya? What war? It’s those horrible cigarettes that we need to focus on!)

If cigarettes are that bad, just outlaw them. But if they’re going to be sold as a legal product in the US, then the government needs to stop requiring tobacco companies to use the profits from its sales to try and deter people from buying more of the product.


3 responses to “Warnings on cigarette packs too much information

  1. People who support these warning labels probably don’t take it for granted that “People who smoke already know that it’s going to kill them,” and they may be hoping that photographic evidence will drive the point home that the dangers are real. I also think there’s a fundamental difference between cigarettes and the other products you mentioned, namely, that there is no good reason for anyone to smoke. Driving a car has significant benefits that arguably outweigh the risks. While most foods have some sort of health risk associated with them, food also happens to be necessary for survival. By contrast, cigarette smoking has no redeeming qualities, hence, people probably feel more justified in interfering with other people’s smoking habits. I’m sure many people would love to completely outlaw cigarettes, but if they can’t accomplish that, they probably view stamping gruesome pictures on the cartons themselves as the next best thing.

    • Just to play devil’s advocate, the argument could be made that driving isn’t really beneifcial. It impacts the environment, causes people to walk less leading to health problems, impacts local economies by giving consumers ability to go farther away to make purchases from big box stores. Not that I’m giving up my dogmobile, LOL, but a case could be made that driving causes more socieital health problems than smoking. Fast food consumption affects society because people who indulge have more health problems, which leads to higher insurance premiums. There is very little we do that doesn’t affect someone else, but I can’t think of another product whereby the government requires a company to use the profits from the sale of a product to advertise why people shouldn’t buy said product. If the government required McDonalds to use a portion of sales from Big Macs to advertise to consumers why eating a Big Mac will lead to obesity, heart disease, clogged arteries, heart attack, stroke, diabetes and possibly death, ppl wouldn’t go for it.

  2. My main point was not that driving and fast food are problem-free or that the benefits necessarily outweigh the negatives, more that that there are positives to those things and there are no positive aspects of smoking.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s