Cigarette pack warnings: US lags and Americans suffer

Brazil's got us beat -- now that's what I call a good cigarette pack warning

There’s been a lot of talk about the FDA’s proposed pictorial warnings on cigarette packs, including some whining by people who say they go too far. Actually, our proposed pictorial warnings are tame compared to the warnings in other countries. Many other nations, including places like Mauritius, Latvia, Djibouti and about a dozen of other countries, are way ahead of us when it comes to explicit pictorial warnings on cigarette packs.

So I ask you: Is public health for Americans less important than it is for the folks in Mauritius? Reading letters to the editor and the blogosphere, you’d think so. People lambasted “nannyism” or claimed that the pictorial warnings are dumb because they won’t work.

But they do work, and there’s a lot of research to show it, including a study

Mauritius and many other countries already have pictorial pack warnings (quick, where is Mauritius?)

from the American Journal of Preventive Medicine that compared Canada’s graphic pictorial warnings with the United States’ feeble text warnings.  The study found that Canadian smokers were more likely than U.S. smokers to think about health risks and consider quitting.

“Health warnings on U.S. packages, which were last updated in 1984, were

associated with the least effectiveness,” the study reported.

It’s not just pictorial warnings where the United States trails other nations in tobacco prevention. For example, our country has no national smokefree policies. Other countries show far more concern about the public health of their citizens than we do. And that’s strange, since we consider our country so scientifically and medically advanced. Yet we allow cigarettes to kill 440,000 Americans each year without putting up much of a fight.

This Brazilian pack label would get the attention of young men lighting one up. But the US is too uptight for such a pack warning

Heck, Namibia just passed one of the most comprehensive smoking bans in the world. Kazakhstan has tougher anti-smoking laws than a dozen U.S. states. Uruguay, Ireland, Guatemala, UK, New Zealand, Colombia and Turkey have comprehensive smokefree laws covering all types of places and institutions, according to the Tobacco Atlas. That’s equivalent to or better than some of the toughest smokefree laws in select American cities and states.

People making fun of  or grousing about the new pictorial warnings on U.S. cigarette packs either don’t know or don’t care that such warnings are becoming the international standard, and that the United States is lagging behind many other countries, including some poor countries, when it comes to tobacco prevention. With tobacco slaughtering hundreds of thousands of people each year in this country, wouldn’t it behoove us to catch up to the rest of the world?

Zzzzzz... huh, wha? Face it, US cigarette warnings are boring and nobody's paid any attention to them in decades

This entry was posted in Addiction, Big Tobacco, Cigarette warning labels, Prevention, Recovery, Second-hand smoke, Smoke-free, Tobacco, Tobacco marketing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Cigarette pack warnings: US lags and Americans suffer

  1. pedestrian08 says:

    Jim, what’s happening in Australia is plain packaging plus the health warnings.
    I think. (Big Tobacco is fighting it tooth and nail).
    So the only graphics as such, on a cigarette package will be the health warnings, which, the last time I looked, presented very disturbing, accurate images of the results of this terrible addiction.
    Very soon, you will not see any color coded marlborough packs etc. They’ll be reduced to the status of a barcode.
    Where they belong.

  2. Pepe Lepew says:

    Hey, good job. I’ve just started up my own anti-tobacco blog. We’ll keep in touch!

  3. Do you have a tag for ‘cigarette ingredient labeling’?
    It’s a conspicuously absent issue.

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