General Question

KateTheGreat's avatar

Do you think graphic images on cigarette packages will actually help fight addiction?

Asked by KateTheGreat (13635points) June 21st, 2011

In this article, they have stated that there are new graphic images to be posted on cigarette packages. Things such as a man with a hole in his throat, premature babies, black lungs, and diseased victims will now be displayed on packages.

Do you think this will help at all? Will it really deter people from buying them? Will it instill guilt into users?

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56 Answers

Paul's avatar

I hope so, I’ve lost enough family to smoking to hope any changes will stop new smokers and make the older one’s quit.

WestRiverrat's avatar

Won’t make a difference to the hard core smokers. It may stop some of the younger kids from trying them in the first place.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Not at all. If anything they’ll become collectible crap for hoarders.

faye's avatar

Canada has had this for years especially the one that uses ash to show a penis not quite making it. We pretty much ignored them after a little while. Anyone I know who quit did it for other reasons. I quit because of blood pressure and money.

Paul's avatar

@Neizvestnaya What sick people would hoard those types of images?

Neizvestnaya's avatar

@Paul: The same people who collect serial killer trading cards and bobbleheads.~

Paul's avatar

@Neizvestnaya That’s put a dampner on me. Those people are strange!

lillycoyote's avatar

Really graphic ones, like photos of people who are missing big chunks of their faces because the had oral cancer or cancer in their jaws might. That would probably get my attention. I don’t know if the types of graphics shown in the article would make a difference.

I am as smoker and it is an extremely complex and powerful addiction. I am intelligent, educated and informed enough about the dangers of smoking, and three family members of mine have died from smoking related cancers, though my grandfather was 80 at the time he was diagnosed. I am not an idiot nor am I ignorant about the dangers smoking pose to me. It’s just been so damn hard for me to quit for good. As Mark Twain, I believe said, “It’s easy to quit smoking, I’ve done it a thousand times.” I quit for 18 months once and started up again, long after I was over and done with actual physical addiction to nicotine. It’s a complex addiction, as I said.

All the warnings and information in the world have not been enough for me, nor for have they been enough for a lot of smokers to make some of us stop. I’m not sure what the answer is. Addiction to cigarettes, alcohol, to drugs, whatever, is is difficult and complex biological, medical and public health issue, addiction is a disorder that, while some medications like Wellbutrin and Chantix helped some people quit smoking, but like all addictions there is really no cure, even with treatment but sheer grit, hard work, commitment and determination on the part of the addict to overcome it.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I think it would be more effective to put goatsee images on the cigarette packages. I know I wouldn’t be able to smoke (or put anything to my mouth) after seeing that again.

Plucky's avatar

As @faye stated ..Canada has been doing this for many years. Most have learnt to ignore the pictures. Some companies even made cigarette package covers or replacement packages cover up or replace the images (usally the same material as the original package).

I really do not think it has helped that much. People that end up quitting, do so for other reasons.

Possible NSFW – Here are some of the pictures on our cigarette packages in Canada. Oh, and each pack of cigarettes comes with a note like this inside.

perspicacious's avatar

Users need not feel guilt. Adults make their own decisions. If cigarettes were as bad for people as the brain-washed public and politicians who made smoking freedom a political issue would have you believe, it would be illegal. Cigarettes are unconstitutionally taxed and smokers pay way more than their fair share in taxes for taking part in a legal activity. The premise of the question is silly, just like (I assume) the article (I did not read it). If I wanted to smoke a cigarette, I would. I do not understand the addiction issue; I have from time to time during my whole life, smoked a cigarette. I used to keep a pack around the house for those times. I was never addicted. I think it becomes a habit with people as much as a possible addiction. I know nicotine is an addicting agent, but I never felt addicted and I’ve known many people who were occasional smokers, so…...........

mrrich724's avatar

Nope. I think higher taxes will.

I have a friend couple (if that makes sense, I am friends with a guy and a gal in a relationship). They keep their finances separate. She is doing quite well, and smokes a pack a day. He was a pack a day smoker and lost his job. Now he works at Starbucks… He’s down to a pack a week b/c he can’t pay for the habit.

You might argue that higher taxes are bad… but if they REALLY wanted to be effective in stopping people from smoking, then I think an additional 5$ tax would be a GREAT way.

I also read an article that stated that the EU country with the lowest health issues from smoking is the one where SNUS is very popular, and states that SNUS use has greatly aided its male citizens quit. Maybe subsidizing the cost of SNUS would be a good way to get people to quit smoking.

I think the above two solutions are both FAR better in terms of getting people to quit smoking…

But hey, why try? I think smoking is natural selection in action :)

perspicacious's avatar

@mrrich724 I don’t know where you live, but in the USA what you suggest is not constitutional. If a product is that bad for you the government will outlaw it. Segments of the population should not be singled out for higher taxes, and that is exactly what has happened to people who smoke.

Blueroses's avatar

I think we’ll see a resurgence in the popularity of decorative cigarette cases. It would be a good time to start making those.

Plucky's avatar

@mrrich724 The price of cigarettes in Canada has increased substantially. This has not made as much difference as one would think. The price of a pack of cigarettes, in Canada, depends on the province. It averages between about $10 and $13 per pack.

trickface's avatar

here’s examples of the pics going to be included on U.S packaging.

I’m shocked you all are saying it wont make much of a difference! Maybe not to 50yr olds, but to the new kids in school deciding whether or not to buy cigarettes, I think it will make a big difference. They’ve been doing this in EU and elsewhere for some time now, if it wasn’t at least a little successful I’m not sure why they’d try it in the big U.S of A.

mrrich724's avatar

@perspicacious The question wasn’t about whether or not it was constitutional. And although my last line was kind of a joke, I really don’t think they should do it. I just thought it would be more effective than the pictures…

SABOTEUR's avatar

I’m sure someone is planning the stages of a potentially profitable cigarette case business.

woodcutter's avatar

@SABOTEUR Remember those cig cases with the compartment built in for the matchbook? They were of a clear plastic but these new ones could be more opaque.

SABOTEUR's avatar


I’m talking about logos and pop stars and colorful designs.

Something to cover those graphic images.

SABOTEUR's avatar

But in answer to the original question, the images may startle people at first, but man has an amazing capacity to ignore just about anything he chooses to ignore.

woodcutter's avatar

@SABOTEUR Yeah maybe work in a ring tone in the design.

john65pennington's avatar

No. It’s just something else for the cigarette companies to have to pay for and the FDA feels good about using their muscle to force the issue.

Like my doctor said, “a cigarette habit is stronger than a morphine habit”. He is correct.

SABOTEUR's avatar

Heck, they’ve done wonders with electronic cigarettes…cigarette cases would prove to be no problem.

The images might have deterred me, though.

Cigarette prices drove me away 2 years ago.
I just would have found e-cigs later than I did.

WestRiverrat's avatar

Only problem is, they are now banning the E-cigs in some places too.

woodcutter's avatar

If scare tactics really worked we would all be holy rollers.

SABOTEUR's avatar

@WestRiverrat Ah…they underestimate the flexibility and creativity of vapers (those who inhale/exhale vapor instead of smoke).

We’ve learned how to make our own equipment and to make the juice we vape (with or without nicotine).

So, they can ban us from buying and selling stuff, but they can’t ban us from making our own.

Vapers will prevail!

faye's avatar

@WestRiverrat Why are they banning something that helps?

WestRiverrat's avatar

They say it is because it hasn’t been tested by the FDA. I think it is just they need to have something to be outraged about so they don’t lose all their funding.

If you run a ban smoking campaign and you have successfully banned smoking everywhere, where is your next paycheck going to come from?

SABOTEUR's avatar

@faye Oh, the answer is simple…

follow the money.

Electronic cigarettes threaten the tobacco industry.

Why else would you threaten to ban something that’s potentially hazardous and not ban a proven health risk?

(Can you spell hypocrites?)

SABOTEUR's avatar

Anyway, the Supreme Court recently overturned efforts by the FDA to ban electronic cigarettes, but have granted them the authority to regulate them as “tobacco products”.

We’re still waiting to see the impact of developing regulation.

seekingwolf's avatar

I am in full support of the e-cigs. No smoke, right? Non-smokers can’t complain and no one will suffer from second hand smoke.

SABOTEUR's avatar

@seekingwolf Well see…there lies the dilemma with them.

They claim they don’t want you smoking.
But they continue to sell you smoking products
while trying to make you feel guilty for buying them.

They don’t want you to quit smoking
and find a satisfactory alternative.

If you’re gonna be a nicitine addict
they’d much rather have you spend money on their addictive product.

And feel guilty about it.

Photosopher's avatar

Yes. The new packaging will give many people a very strong reason to quit smoking.

jerv's avatar

I have been to places overseas where the warnings are fucking huge and blunt, and they smoke even more than Americans do.

Besides, how bored do you have to be to even look at your cigarette pack? When I smoked, I basically made sure it was the right style (American Spirit Perique; the black pack), found the little pull-tab on the cellophane, and that was the last time I paid more attention to the pack than was required to pull out a smokestick. If I wanted to read, I have books. If I want to look at pictures, I have internet access to more varieties of porn than most people thought possible; why look at my smokes when I can be looking at two scatophiliac she-males and a donkey? (Probably more disgusting than any picture of a tracheotomy, but also more interesting in that trainwreck sort of way.)

@Photosopher Have you ever seen a smoker old enough to legally buy their own cigs that doesn’t know smoking does nasty things?

Seaofclouds's avatar

I don’t think they’ll make a difference. At first, I thought, maybe, just maybe, they’d help stop younger kids from starting to smoke, but then I remember just how much my 9-year-old already knows about smoking and the harm it does because of what he’s already been taught in school in the DARE program. He already knows it turns the lungs black and that it’s been for pregnant woman to smoke because it can hurt the baby. He’s even already seen black lungs thanks to going to a Body Works exhibit when he was younger. With all that he already knows, I don’t think a few pictures would stop him if he wanted to smoke. Luckily, what he knows is reason enough for him to think no one should smoke at this point. We’ll see what happens as he gets older and faces peer pressure.

Photosopher's avatar

@jerv Knowing and seeing are two different things. The formula for showing the visual is a powerful one. That’s why they show us starving children on TV rather than just tell us about them.

And yes, just hearing about the smoking packaging on the news today made me think about the visuals in my mind, where I wouldn’t normally have done so. I did not purchase a pack since hearing the news. I’m having difficulty imagining myself buying a pack with disgusting vulgarity all over it.

Let’s be realistic here. Cigg companies have profited greatly by attaching their poison to images of glamour, cool and beauty. They do this because it has an affect upon their sales. Doing the opposite should have a relative and balanced counter affect. Just hearing about it has affected me to that degree. Can’t say I’m quit. But sure can say that I’ll think a lot more about buying that pack tomorrow. I’ll put even more thought into it when the packs are dressed in cancer.

Roby's avatar

No, it wont help at all. Most will ignore them completely and lite up.

I once saw a woman smoking out of the hole in her throat. It was disgusting.

I have been smoke free for 12 years and I have recently been diagnosed with emphysema.

meiosis's avatar

The World Health Organisation think it is effective

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

I don’t think it helps people with their addictions, but it may give a 12 year old who thinks he/she is a rebel second thoughts.

We have had graphic images on cigarette packs in Australia for as long as I can remember. However recent policy has led to plain packaging – all cigarettes are now sold in plain white packets. I have no idea what the theory is behind it, but as long as it decreases the rate of smoking I am happy.

MissAusten's avatar

I don’t think it’s going to matter much at all. I have a lot of hard-core smokers in my family, and all of them are already quite aware of the health effects of smoking. They’ll just ignore the images or cover them up. People smoke because they are addicted to nicotine, not because they are ignorant of the effects or think they’ll somehow escape the many health problems associated with smoking.

My dad, who is now 65 years old, smokes close to three packs a day. He started smoking when he was 15. By the time I was in high school, I’d wake up each morning to the sound of him coughing. And coughing. And coughing. I don’t even want to know what he sounds like in the morning now, but I do know that he can’t laugh without going into a coughing fit. He has no plans to quit even though the smoking is clearly affecting his health. I believe it’s only his refusal to ever go to a doctor that’s kept him from being diagnosed with something serious already and that when he finally is forced to go to a doctor or hospital it will be too late. He is going to die from it and we all know it, but he keeps smoking away.

My mother in law has been a pack a day smoker since she was a young woman. She has various health problems, including high blood pressure, that are either caused or exasperated by smoking. She has missed months of work, lost quite a bit of money from missed wages and doctor bills, and yet has no plans to quit smoking.

There are other people in my family with similar stories, but you get the idea. Some nasty pictures that can be covered up won’t deter people who are already becoming examples of the risks of smoking themselves.

As for younger kids, they know better than anyone the risks of smoking. My kids can tell you all about it thanks to health class at school. I’m sure almost any kid can. They don’t start smoking because they don’t know it’s bad for you, they start because they want to be grown up. They see other people appear to enjoy it, so they try it. It’s gross, so they keep doing it thinking they won’t get addicted. Then, they’re addicted.

I’d like to see the FDA throw some support behind methods of helping people quit that actually work instead of wasting who knows how much time and money on something like this that, I believe, won’t make any difference at all in the long run.

@perspicacious It really is that bad, and the government will not outlaw it because the government makes far too much money from it. Tobacco companies can also afford lobbyists, which mean their interests will always have more impact on politicians than what is actually best for citizens of this country. I’m actually really surprised that anyone over the age of 13 would be so naive as to think the US government makes decisions based on the welfare of citizens over the welfare of its own pockets.

Seelix's avatar

I haven’t read all of the responses yet, but my answer to the question is a resounding NO.

Canada’s had those gross pictures on cigarette packs for years now, and it hasn’t done anything. I remember for a while after they started that whole thing, a lot of people just bought cigarette cases and used those so they wouldn’t have to look at the pictures.

Prices and pictures aren’t going to make smokers quit. (All right, it might work for some, but not for the majority, I don’t think.) Neither is putting cigarettes in closed cabinets in stores and banning advertisements. The idea is to get people to not start smoking… those who are addicted and don’t want to quit won’t.

jerv's avatar

@Photosopher I must be more mentally defective than I thought since images don’t really affect me more than the pictures I already have in my head :/

Then again, we see all sorts of atrocities without batting an eyelash. You seem to think that people care more than they actually do.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@Photosopher If seeing was enough to stop people from smoking, nurses and doctors that have cared for those people you are seeing in these new pictures wouldn’t be smoking, but they do. If the people that see first hand what smoking does can see that and continue to smoke, a picture of it (which takes away the personal side of actually caring for those patients) isn’t going to change things either. At least, not in my opinion.

mattbrowne's avatar

Yes. I would just use one text label: “Smoking can make you impotent” with a graphic image of a shriveled penis.

SABOTEUR's avatar

@mattbrowne That might work…not that I’m using mine much anyway…so maybe it wouldn’t.

jerv's avatar

@Seaofclouds Lets not forget the “It’ll never happen to me!” mentality.

faye's avatar

@mattbrowne Look at @PluckyDog‘s post. We have the limp cigarette.

mattbrowne's avatar

In Germany the “Smoking can make you impotent” is by far the most effective one it seems. I once read a newspaper article about it and even became a witness when paying for gas. The man in front of me refused to take the impotency pack and told the cashier, I’ll have a lung cancer pack instead.

Photosopher's avatar

All this talk and mental imagery… Well I just purchased the E-Cig and have been puffing away on nicotine water vapor ever since. Yesterday only had five real smokes, would have been twenty or more. Cup of coffee this morning on the front porch with a real smoke, but not another one since.

It may not help everyone. But I can confirm that by bringing the ugliness to the forefront, the auto-response isn’t so auto any more. It has a few mental hurdles to climb before I succumb. That’s all I can ask for. Just give me reason to consider my actions a bit before I take them.

mattbrowne's avatar

I think e-cigs are a great invention although the nicotine addiction remains. But none of the other 2000 chemicals of normal cigarettes can harm smokers anymore.

Photosopher's avatar

Doctor gave prescription for Welbutrin. Hoping the e-cig will bridge the gap before filling it. Don’t really want to get on that drug.

jerv's avatar

@mattbrowne That was why I smoked American Spirit; nothing but tobacco.

SABOTEUR's avatar

@Photosopher Congratulations on your effort thus far! If you get the chance, mosey on over to the E-cigarette Forum. You’ll be most welcome there.

bobocalyth's avatar

No, in fact, smokers just like me do not take much attentions to the images on the package of cigarettes. We only take attentions to the brand of it.

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