Cigarette warning labels: Will the new graphics deter smokers? [Reader Poll]
The FDA's new cigarette warning labels specialize in shock value. Unlike the current text messages displayed on packs of cigarettes, these graphics are unavoidable. It’s hard to argue that an image of a man smoking a cigarette from his throat won’t catch attentions -- even if, as Reason's Jacob Sullum writes, the FDA's sensibility is comparable to "a moderately intelligent 10-year-old." The striking images remind us we're mortal and they also play into our vanity. The question is: Will they work?
A recent study in Canada showed that graphic labels deterred 1 in 5 smokers. What about the other four?
Some experts, including Art Markman, professor of psychology and marketing, University of Texas at Austin, argue that shaming people into good behavior often has the reverse effect. And you know there are going to be the contingent of activist types who continue smoking in defiance of what they perceive as heavy-handed government interference, as Allahpundit opines about on Hot Air: "[W]hy stop at cigarettes? Ciggies may be addictive but the percentage of American smokers is actually lower than the percentage of obese residents for most states. How long before every Happy Meal box carries a photo of a 350-lb. man with his shirt off?"
When the FDA revealed prototypes of its new labels in November, we asked readers their thoughts.
--48.84% thought it was a great way to address a major public health concern.
--18.6% thought it wouldn’t make a difference as smokers would become desensitized to the labels.
--32.56% thought it was a terrible idea because the government shouldn’t be allowed to put its paw print on consumer products.
Now that the labels have been selected and there’s an official launch date -- Sept. 22, 2012 -- we'd like to pose a follow-up question.
-- Alexandra Le Tellier
Photo: One of nine new warning labels cigarette makers will have to use by the fall of 2012. Credit: U.S. Food and Drug Administration