Tobacco ads go graphic

By Carrie Johnson Weimar • Published: November 20th, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

The federal government is getting graphic in its war on tobacco use.

Gone will be the printed warnings on the side of cigarette packages, such as “Quitting Smoking Now Greatly Reduces Serious Risks to Your Health.” In its place will be gruesome images of blackened teeth, gangrenous feet, even bleeding brains.

The goal is to get people who may have ignored the printed message to pay attention and think twice before lighting up a cigarette. The strategy has apparently worked well in other countries. In fact, in Canada, the number of smokers dropped five percent since the graphic images were added to cigarette packs nine years ago. About twenty-one percent of the U.S. population smokes, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There’s scientific evidence to back up the theory. In a recent study at Villanova University, five-hundred and forty-one smokers from the U.S. and Canada were shown three different images. The first showed a smoker’s mouth with yellowed teeth, the second was a more diseased mouth and the third was a gruesome, disfigured mouth. The smokers who viewed the third image expressed the most fear and said they planned to quit.

The different packaging is the result of a measure signed into law on June twenty-second here in the United States. The new regulations give the U.S. Food and Drug Administration greater authority to regulate marketing of tobacco products.

Look for the new packaging in about three years… more than enough time to kick the habit before confronting rotting teeth or a black lung on a pack of Marlboros.