COMMENTARY | Has the FDA gone to far with graphic pictures and warnings on cigarette labels?
The Obama administration is appealing a federal judge’s decision to block a law that would have forced tobacco companies to put graphic pictures and warnings on cigarette labels. The judge cited First Amendment rights in making his decision, saying the law would force tobacco companies to “engage in anti-smoking advocacy”
As far as the smoking population is concerned I do not think someone who has been smoking for 10 years and already knows the risks is going to stop smoking because of these ads. Maybe to some extent it could deter teenagers, which i think is the important factor here to prevent future addiction.
You can see that the ads taken from the FDA’s website at http://www.fda.gov/TobaccoProducts/Labeling/CigaretteWarningLabels/default.htm are very dramatic and straight forward. These ads could scare a teenager into saying no to smoking.
The U.S. is not the only country using graphic pictures with health warnings. As a matter of fact the U.S. health warnings are tame in comparison. health warning for all countries can be found here http://www.smoke-free.ca/warnings/default.htm. The Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada lists all the countries warning labels.
To me it is very clear these labels are a bit overdramatized and were meant to get people to quit smoking and prevent people from starting. But then this brings up a question, what about alcohol? The consumption of alcohol also causes disease, birth defects and drunk driving kills thousands each year. Maybe we should show an over dramatized bloody accident caused by a drunk driver on alcohol bottles. Do you think we should also include warning labels on alcohol too? Or maybe we should include those warning labels on foods that are not healthy. Should we show obese children being poked with needles because they have diabetes on a Happy Meal?
Some say the government has gone to far acting as Big Brother others agree that the labels will help in at least preventing young people from picking up the bad habit and make smokers want to quit.
Most smokers that I have talked to say this would not stop them from quitting, because they already know the risks of smoking. Formal smokers say the same, pictures are not going to get anyone to quit. But maybe they could prevent young people from starting.
The question here is has the government gone to far in this issue? I do not know. I do know that maybe it might be worth it if we can prevent future addiction in our children. Do I want the government making decisions for me? No, Maybe not I think this could lead to more control by the government.
I can see both sides of the issue here