Graphic Images coming to US Cigarette Packs

The US is finally following countries like Canada, Australia, Chile, Iran, Brazil, and Singapore in placing graphic images of the ravages of smoking on cigarette packs.  The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will oversee the change.  Companies will have 18 months to place the images on the cigarette packs after the FDA creates the specific recommendations.  The entire process will take about three years.  The images will cover at least half the front and the back of the cigarette packs showing the health dangers from smoking.  The EU provided 42 graphic images for cigarette packs starting in 2004.

So why the graphic images?  The answer is to reduce cigarette smoking.

“Though hard to look at, the more graphic the image, the more effective in discouraging smoking, said Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco and director of the university’s Center for Tobacco Control, Research and Education. ‘The graphic warnings really work,” he said. “They substantially increase the likelihood someone will quit smoking. They substantially decrease the chances a kid will smoke. And they really screw up the ability of the tobacco industry to use the packaging as a marketing tool,’ he added, according to HealthDay News report.”

Currently about 21% of the US population smoking according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).  Cigarette smoking is seen as one of the drains on US health care.  People are healthier and less costly if they do not smoke.  Now the graphics images will be used to chow people what can happened to them.  It is no longer just words but images of what can happen.

Questions to Consider

  1.  Would this effort qualify as a social marketing effort?
  2. The campaign is based on fear.  What is the problem of rely just on fear to change behaviors?
  3. How could Witte’s EPPM be used to create an effective message based upon the images on packages concept?  In other words, what other information and actions are needed to make the effort effective?
  4. Who are main stakeholders in this issue and what does each stand to gain or lose?
  5. Are there any ethical concerns about the graphic images on cigarette packages?
  6. How could this same tactic be applied to other public health issues?

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