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The most powerful of the graphic cigarette warning labels play into our deepest fear: ugliness

November 11, 2010 |  6:17 pm

Cigarette Warning Label1

It remains to be seen whether the FDA's graphic cigarette warning labels will be effective. The proposed ads offer up a variety of in-your-face reality checks: a lung fill with tumors, a woman crying because she got cancer from secondhand smoke, a man sick with cancer. But perhaps the ads that'll make the most impact are the ones that play into physical appearance. I'd argue that we're more controlled by our vanity than our fears of addiction, cancer, even death. How many times have you heard someone say they'd quit smoking were it not for the risk of weight gain? Of course, what these new ads will show are that a few extra pounds are nothing next to lip cancer or a hole in your throat.

--Alexandra Le Tellier

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Photos: Cigarette labels featuring graphic images have been proposed by the FDA. Credit: Food and Drug Administration

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