Smoke ‘em while you’ve got ‘em

You can already see them on the Internet, but soon, you’ll be seeing them in stores – the new U.S. Surgeon General’s warning images on cigarette packs.
The FDA will require those images to take up the top half of cigarette packs starting in 2012, and the hope is that the images wills stop people from smoking.
It’s a pretty brazen move by the government, one must admit – especially since the images are kind of gruesome. They include smoke coming out of a man’s tracheotomy tube, pictures of a diseased lung and even a baby surrounded by cigarette smoke. The government is hoping that such images will create a strong negative response to cigarettes and will drive people to seek help in quitting, and the method being used is the same one cigarette companies have used to entice smokers for years. The tobacco industry continues to spend $34 million per day on advertising and promotion in the United States. That works out to $42 for every person in the U.S., and more than $275 for each U.S. smoker aged 18 years or older.
The fact remains that tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, this year approximately 5 million persons worldwide will die from tobacco-related heart attacks, strokes, cancers, and other diseases. In the United States, that number is approximately 443,000.
But will they work? The CDC also states that more than 90 percent of men and women cigarettes smokers in 12 countries reported noticing a package warning in the last 30 days. That statistic comes from a 14-nation study. Of those who noticed, only 50 percent were thinking about quitting. What smoker hasn’t considered quitting at one time or another, however? (This comes from a newspaper where the great majority of our staff are smokers, for the record.)
At the same time, the CDC states that in California over a 15-year period, every dollar spent on tobacco control saw a $50 return, thanks to reduced health care costs. It also costs the government virtually nothing to force tobacco companies to place the images on their packs and advertising. It seems that the only ones who stand to lose here are the tobacco companies and the die-hard smokers who won’t quit no matter how unhealthy it makes them.
The verdict? Smoke ‘em while you’ve got ‘em, smokers. They’re coming for you, and they’re not going to stop any time soon. Are smokers’ rights being intruded upon? You can certainly argue that, but in today’s political climate, you’re almost guaranteed to lose. Quitting is starting to look smarter and smarter by the day, if only because it’s looking more and more inevitable.

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Posted by on Jun 23 2011. Filed under Editorials. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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