Over the last few days, I’ve been noticing a lot more public service announcements about the dangers of smoking (some of them are so graphic I could barely watch). I’m not a smoker, but I can’t imagine a smoker not being scared to death after seeing some of these. And today, the Food and Drug Administration announced that new (larger and more graphic) warning labels will be mandatory on all cigarette packaging.
I actually think this is something that really could work. I think these images have a lot of potential to increase the number of people who want to quit smoking, and I also think they will serve as a strong deterrent to anyone who might be considering starting.
If the pictures aren’t enough — Here are some facts from the FDA website that might surprise you…
- More than 1,200 people a day are killed by cigarettes in the United States alone, and 50 percent of all long-term smokers are killed by smoking-related diseases. Tobacco use is the cause of death for nearly one out of every five people in the United States, which adds up to about 443,000 deaths annually.
- More than 140,000 deaths from heart disease and stroke in the United States are caused each year by smoking and secondhand smoke exposure. Compared with nonsmokers, smoking is estimated to increase the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke by 2 to 4 times.
- Smoking causes approximately 90 percent of all lung cancer deaths in men and 80 percent of all lung cancer deaths in women. Smoking also causes cancers of the bladder, cervix, esophagus, kidney, larynx, lung, mouth, throat, stomach, uterus, and acute myeloid leukemia. Nearly one-third of all cancer deaths are directly linked to smoking.
But don’t expect to see these new warning labels on the packaging anytime soon — The cigarette manufacturers have about 15 months before it is mandatory that they comply.
Have you seen any of these more graphic warnings? Do you think they will have an effect on actual smokers?
This was just sent to me from the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health…
• Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death; 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.
• Health warnings on cigarette packages prompt smokers to think about quitting, according to a 14-nation study. Effective warning labels as a component of comprehensive tobacco control can help save lives by reducing tobacco use.
– More than 90% of men and women cigarette smokers 12 of the 14 countries reported noticing a package warning in the last 30 days.
– The other two countries are India (78.4%) and Mexico (83.5%).
– Among smokers who noticed a warning, the percentage thinking of quitting because of the warning was greater than 50% in six of the countries: Bangladesh, Brazil, India, Thailand, Ukraine and Viet Nam.
• Warning labels motivate smokers to quit and discourage nonsmokers from starting, are well accepted by the public, and can be effectively implemented at virtually no cost to governments.
• Prominent, pictorial warnings are most effective in communicating the harms of smoking.
• Sustained tobacco control programs reduce health care expenditures, save states money and save lives.
– For example, in California, over a 15 year period, for every dollar spent on tobacco control, there was a 50 dollar return, thanks to reduced health care costs.
– Lung cancer deaths are decreasing in the U.S. at a more rapid rate in states with lower smoking rates.
– There is a 4-fold difference in lung cancer rates between the state with the lowest rate of smoking and the state with the highest.
• We have proven that, unlike many problems in society and public health, decreasing expenses and death from smoking is a winnable battle.
• 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.
On a more positive note…
Quitting at any age and at any time is beneficial. It’s never too late to quit, but the sooner the better. Quitting gives your body a chance to heal the damage caused by smoking.
What do you think? Do these types of graphic images and television ads make a smoker want to quit? How hard of a hit do you think it will be on cigarette manufacturers once these new warning labels are implemented? Let us know what you think in comments.
ALSO SEE: My recent post on BlogHer – Popular Quit-Smoking Drug Linked to Suicide Risk