Judge Puts a Hold on Graphic Cigarette Images

Back in June, when nine graphic images were chosen to appear on cigarette packaging, there was talk from the cigarette industry of legal action. A federal judge agrees with the companies’ lawsuit, filed in August, and has put a halt to plans to decorate cigarette packaging with pictures of rotting lungs and human blowholes, saying the images violate First Amendment rights.

The Food and Drug Administration, which has regulatory authority over the tobacco industry, would like to reduce the adult smoking rate from 20 percent to 12 percent by 2020, The Wall Street Journal says. But the cigarette companies argue that they shouldn’t be forced place a warning on the side of their perfectly legal products saying “Don’t buy this product.” The judge ordered the plan put on hold for more than a year after the final ruling.

We’re wondering if there isn’t a more effective way to go about changing people’s behavior than horrible images.

Let’s face it, if you spent money on a pack of sticks, you’re not going to just then throw them away, especially in New York where a pack can run you $12 (perhaps the best preventative measure out there). And people pay money to see people mutilated on screen (i.e. Saw or Human Centipede) purely for entertainment purposes.

Perhaps the the better approach would be to present what you get by not smoking. “Got Milk” has been so successful in part because it talks about the things that the celebs in the ads achieve by taking action (drinking milk).

Partnering with a notable name or organization can also bring those positive results to life. National Geographic, First Lady Michelle Obama, and schools across the country (and around the world) teamed up to try and break the Guinness Record for most people doing jumping jacks in a 24-hour period, an effort that was covered in local papers everywhere. The effort was also tied to the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” campaign.

The point is the FDA should strive to go farther than simply telling people smoking is bad, a message they’ve been getting for many years. Something that brings people in to convince them there are better things to spend their time on is the better path.