Cigarette warning label is a legal formality fulfilled by the cigarette manufacturers. The fact is that cigarette warning labels do not affect the smokers.
Warning labels were adapted in the late 1960s with a minor note saying “Smoking can be Hazardous to Health”. It was only the 1970s that confirmed, smoking could kill. And, in 1985 other labels including warnings for Lung Cancer, Heart Diseases, Emphysema and that Smoking during pregnancy is Dangerous, were added.
Smoking is one habit that people are not ready to quit even when they are dying. This is because cigarette smoking leads to a rapid addiction for nicotine and is as addictive as alcohol and cocaine. Also, the placebo pleasures associated with smoking like stress relief, calmness and weight loss are other factors that keep the smokers addicted. “Cigarette Kills”, “Cigarettes Cause Cancer” – these warnings do not help people quit or even reduce smoking. They are in fact ignored like they were meant to add ‘grace’ to the brand name.
One reason why I think people tend to ignore the harmful effects of smoking is because they think and believe that they are immune to it. This could be because when their body gives them signals of illness and they think of giving it up, they see others smoking around and get tempted. Each smoker thinks he is not the only one. Not only are they tempted but in the middle of these thoughts comes the theory of ‘One Life’. The concept of one life says we have just one life to live so do all the things that make you happy. “Whatever happened to the idea of quitting!”
Do Cigarette Warning Labels Help?
Let’s divide the smokers into three categories and see how cigarette warning labels could possibly affect them.
1. New/Rookie Smoker
2. Average Smoker
3. Chain Smoker
Those who have started smoking recently, smoke either for keeping up with the Joneses or for mere experimentation, I am calling them the new/rookie smokers. Cigarette warning labels can show some effect on smokers who are experimenting. Even a person who has just started to smoke already knows that he is entering a dark road. So, if his first experience is not good he may read the warning label on the cigarette box and decide to not smoke again. However, if smoking is adapted as an habit to just look cool or to join the bandwagon, then the smoker after reading the warning would want to quit but will not do so because of the peer pressure.
Coming to an average smoker; he is addicted to smoking but only for the pleasure he derives from it. He is a cautious smoker who tries to play safe. He knows that smoking is injurious and hence tries to balance out by not smoking excessively. This happens unconsciously. He thinks that smoking at this pace will not harm him very soon. He ignores the warning labels and continues smoking.
Finally, coming to a chain smoker; he is kind of a smoker who does not care about the side effects of smoking. And, even if he is facing some health issues he does not let it come against the pleasure he derives from smoking. Chain smokers smoke in a way that the moment one cigarette is over the other is lit or even before the previous cigarette is over. His attitude is, if I am anyway going to die, I’d rather die smoking; or as Kurt Cobain puts it, it is better to burn out than to fade away! They reach a stage of ‘apparent helplessness’ when it comes to smoking and they suppress their guilt by either showing pride in smoking or by expressing the inability to quit. A chain smoker treats the cigarette warning labels as an invitation for smoking.
Smokers don’t really care about themselves. Because if they did they would not be smoking in the first place. But what smokers need to realize is the fact that smoking not only harms/kills them but also affects their children, friends and all those who hang around with them. Smokers are indirectly passing on all the side effects of smoking to their loved one’s, in the form of passive smoking.
US to Adapt the Large and Vivid Graphic Labels
How can a smoker actually quit smoking? This is one global question for which researchers and scientists have been seeking an answer for. It’s a habit that you can quit for not more than a day and the warning labels have never helped. Hence, “smoking kills” – this warning will not really matter to them. But, if warning labels indicate how smoking can affect or kill their loved one’s, it might just pinch the smoker every time he notices a warning label.
Researchers have said that the warning labels do not reach all the smokers and goes unnoticed. Therefore, the US Food and Drug Administration has finally decided to join the bandwagon of other countries that have used large graphic labels on tobacco products, after September, 2012. It has been concluded by the researchers that vivid and scandalizing images on the cigarette covers are more likely to motivate smokers for quitting. A vivid image of a man suffering from cancer accompanied with a warning like “Smoking can kill your children/love” will certainly affect more than a mere text-warning.
Yes! It’s going to be disgusting to look at, but that’s the motive. These new warning labels embarks the first change in the last 25 years. Countries like Mauritius and Thailand have shown an increase in the percentage of people who want to quit smoking, after applying the graphic warning labels. We hope the same effect is seen everywhere else.
Smokers surrender their will, health and lives against the smoking addiction. Smoking has been an addiction where even the rehabilitation centers, focus groups and quit-smoking-aids have not helped in quitting. There is no guarantee or even an approximation on how many people will be affected with the new cigarette warning labels. But, it is certain that the new labels will prove to be more effective than the previous warning labels.
The tobacco industry cannot be banned as the tobacco crop contributes, USD 1.4 billion to the American economy with 371 billion cigarettes being consumed, in a year, approximately. But look at the trade off; every year “438,000” Americans die with smoking-related diseases and they spend USD167 billion/per annum on smoking related medical expenses. Statistics indicates that the deaths occurring from chronic-obstructive lung diseases are 90% because of cigarette smoking.
Tobacco manufacturers spend a whopping amount on advertising for cigarettes and the government spends another whopping amount in advertising the ill-effects of smoking. And, in the bargain we are sacrificing the health of world citizens, in order to gain economic benefits. Is this fair?