Warnings don’t work, it seems. People still smoke. They just don’t get it.
But there is a new era coming. Concerned investigators are claiming that putting hideous images on the packets, showing real damage caused by the smoking habit, prompts more people to quit. Hopefully it will also stop kids ever starting.
Very few people read the health warnings on cigarette packets, I conclude. But everyone is affected by the power of an image. You can’t escape it: the picture of a rotten mouth, with teeth dropping out, or a disfiguring facial cancer every time you whip out the packet for a light up MUST, surely, cause a smoker to hesitate!
Now new federal regulations are planned in the USA and will be in force within 3 years. That means shocking images will start appearing on cigarette packets here. They appeared today (27th August) for the first time in the UK. Other governments have been enforcing their use for some time.
Over the last decade, countries as varied as Canada, Australia, Chile, Brazil, Iran and Singapore, among others, have adopted graphic warnings on tobacco products. Some are downright disturbing: in Brazil, cigarette packages come with pictures of dead babies and a gangrened foot with blackened toes.
If U.S. regulations are modeled after those already in place in Canada and other countries, the warnings will be hard to look at: blackened lungs, gangrenous feet, bleeding brains and people breathing through tracheotomies.
Though shocking, the more graphic the image, the more effective in discouraging smoking, says Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco and director of the university’s Center for Tobacco Control, Research and Education.
Doubters have suggested that images which are too stomach-turning may backfire because people eventually ignore them. In fact current research shows this is not the case: the most graphic images pack the most emotional impact and seem to be working.
When I say working; well, Canada, for example, where 13% of the population smoked, has had a gratifying 5% drop since the graphic warnings were adopted in 2000. That’s not a lot, until you translate it into lives saved.
But a measly 5%? Smokers just don’t get it! But then, you have to be dumb to start smoking in the first place…
Check out this site with lots of links and references featuring brain damage and lowering of IQ among smokers (maybe that’s why they won’t quit?)
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