Will the FDA’s Cigarette Package Ads Help Smokers Kick the Habit?

Okay all you cigarette lovers, listen up! The FDA has recently unveiled their proposed advertisements (click the link to see pictures) which will span across every cigarette package sold in the United States. The advertisements will showcase the cause and effect relationship between tobacco and the harmful things the substance does to the body. This new measure is aimed at making consumers rethink their decision every time they light up. I don’t believe we will see a widespread drop in cigarette consumption as a result of these shocking advertisements but I am glad the FDA is taking additional actions to try and curb this disgusting habit.

The Smoke-Free Illinois Act, which prohibits smoking in public places and workplaces, was arguably one of the best days in my life. Banning the annoying smoke that pollutes the atmosphere of my favorite restaurants and bars was a serious feat and makes hanging out in these public places SO much more enjoyable. I know for all the smokers out there who were outraged at this law it was a very unwelcome change, especially when it forces you out onto the streets during blistering cold Chicago winters to take a cig break. Well, I guess you’ll now hate on me because I for one was a huge proponent for this piece of legislation!

Enough of my opinion! Let’s get down and dirty. Why has the FDA decided to take these measures in efforts to persuade smokers to kick the habit? These advertisements have actually now become required by a federal law passed last year. The law empowers the FDA to regulate tobacco products and these advertisements are aimed at doing just that.

The FDA can't ban smoking, but they can certainly try to deter smokers!

The FDA can’t ban smoking, but they can certainly try to deter smokers!

Recent studies conducted by the FDA show that 20.6 % of American adults are smokers and an additional 19.5 % of American teenagers are smokers. So while the FDA isn’t banning tobacco products altogether, it is trying to convince these portions of the population to rethink their decision. How about this for an astonishing statistic: roughly 440,000 people in the United States die each year from a smoking-related cause. Why not try to motivate these people to kick the habit with marketing tactics right on the box? I think it’s genius. The advertisement will cover half the surface area of each pack of cigarettes with blunt messages such as: “Smoking can kill you,” or “Cigarettes are addictive.”

Obviously, a drastic change like this has some outraged. Cigarette lovers argue that implementing advertisements such as these infringe on the marketing efforts of the manufacturers. I, for one, don’t agree with this mentality. Cigarettes shouldn’t be advertised period. I understand that invading tobacco’s territory is a bit intrusive but at the end of the day it’s a necessary evil. The standard warning label issued by the Surgeon General that adorns each cigarette pack or magazine advertisement no longer holds value for cigarette users. It’s now time to up the ante and really educate the smokers out there! I know some will argue that it’s not a matter of education but rather a matter of addiction; this is something I can’t argue with but at the very least advertisements such as these can act as a constant reminder of how poisonous tobacco is and hopefully motivate its users to begin the long slow process of breaking the addiction.

What are your thoughts about these new advertisements? If for nothing else, remember non-smokers don’t have to battle premature wrinkles, rotten teeth, damaged lungs…and oh wait, they also LIVE LONGER. What do you think about the new cigarette packaging? Do you think it will encourage people to quit smoking?


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  1. QLP Jill

    You’ve made some interesting points in this post, and I respect your opinions 100%. Before the Smoke-Free Illinois Act, I always hated going to restaurants where the “smoking section” was separated from the “non-smoking section” by nothing more than a plant or something…the smoke came right over and my food always tasted horrible as a result.

    The smoking ban in public/indoor places I DO agree with. However, I’m not a fan of these FDA-proposed ads you mentioned. Everyone knows that smoking is bad for you (even smokers, believe it or not) and this seems like overkill to me. I don’t feel that it’s the FDA’s place to “look out for people” and deter them from smoking. It’s true that many people want to quit but can’t because they’re too addicted, but even if that were the case I doubt that a graphic photo of yellow teeth and damaged gums would spur them to quit any sooner. There are many other things in this world that are bad for you (like alcohol, certain prescription drugs, etc) but we don’t see the FDA stepping in on those! I feel that people should be able to make their own decisions and it’s not the FDA’s or the government’s place to step in and babysit adults who want to purchase legal substances.

    Should we help people through addictions when they need it and support them? Of course. Should we make counseling or treatments more available to interested parties? Yes. But I honestly don’t think that ads like this are going to squash any cigarette or tobacco sales. People who are addicted and WANT to smoke will just as easily ignore these pictures over time just as they’ve learned to ignore the Surgeon General’s warnings.

    I’ve had countless family members die of cancer (they all smoked their entire lives) so believe me, I understand your resentment of tobacco! On the other hand though, I also understand how adamant longtime smokers are about smoking and they get super defensive if you tell them they need to quit for their health. They will only seek help on their own terms…which is why I’m skeptical of these ads!

    Despite my differing opinions, I wanted you to know that I think this is a very well written and informative post – keep up the good work! 🙂

    • Cybernetic SAM

      I agree, couldn’t have said it better myself. I too am an adult and am making a goal to quite but I don’t need the government treating me like a child with the scare tactics, yes it makes you think, but I already know the cold, hard, and disturbing facts of the choice I made.

  2. Jeff

    Personally knowing 3 people that have died from smoking related causes, I am in favor of ANY measure that cuts down on the amount of smokers out there. And the Smoke Free Act was one of the best days of my life too! Now I can breathe fresh air and just look at all the smokers outside in the cold and laugh…. warmly.

  3. KB

    I don’t believe the new packaging will immediately have an effect on smokers as I’m sure they are well aware of the health risks of their addicition. One thing it will be great for is a deterrent for the young observers of smokers who may see their older siblings or parents reaching for a cigarette from what may have seemed like a “cool” package. Educating the young kids who may not be aware of the health hazards is definitely going to be key in cutting back on the smoker population. Who knows, maybe after seeing it blatantly in their face everytime they reach for a cigarette it will encourage a change in smokers over time…or it may just create a market for designer cigarette cases so smokers can repackage after they make their cancer stick purchases…now there’s a marketing idea!

    I also want to say that I’m with you Shannon. I totally supported and appreciate the ban on smoking in public places. Smokers can kill themselves with their tobacco addiction, but it definitely shouldn’t be forced on others…second hand smoke is even more dangerous! 🙂

  4. Scooby DOO!

    It’s a good try but I fear the only thing that will come out of it is an increase in cigarette pack holders. I am no smoker, but I am quite sure, for those who are addicted, they probably care less on the packaging. Now if the FDA makes the cigarette companies take out the nicotine or force a hefty price floor per pack, then I think you’ll see a decrease in use. Fortunately, none of those is constitutional. However, I have an idea…double or triple insurance premiums for smokers, and THEN MAYBE people will think twice. But then what do you do for the drinkers, or the Californians who can smoke pot? Where do you draw the line? To me, I think it’s a waste of effort, but it will be interesting nonetheless!

  5. Vernon

    I don’t think anything will change. People don’t quit because of the ANTI-smoking advertisements of Truth or Surgeon Generals warnings. Usually family/friends or economical and health reasons get people to quit the habit. Educating people about the hazards of smoking won’t do anything. It is like educating people on the hazards of alcohol during the prohibition… And we all know how that ended. People are going to do things that are hazardous to their health and most likely those around them. Whether it is Nicotine, fat, alcohol or foul language people love to do it and it is always considered a “disgusting habit” to someone around them

  6. JJ "Suite G"

    This seems like quite a polarizing issue–which I love. As of yet, I haven’t really done any online research into the debate myself, but I’m aware it’s a hot topic. Non-smokers and those in favor of anti-smoking measures are understandably justified in favoring the new FDA package ads. Regular smokers will–for the time being, I’m sure–view them in much the same manner they currently view the “Surgeon General’s Warning” on packages.

    Opponents to these proposed ads could argue that they’re FAR too invasive and over-reaching, but with the FDA and Johnny Law already against that mentality, it doesn’t really matter much. We’ll likely start seeing these ads on packages very soon.

    So, will the newer, more blatant ads be effective? Will they prove successful in deterring potential smokers from succumbing to the habit? Only time will tell.

    I’m a smoker myself (down to only 2-3 a day) with definite intentions to quit, but not in the short-term, so i honestly don’t have much of an opinion either way in this matter. I’ll just sit back and enjoy watching this all unfold–which is basically all I do anyway.

    In any case…

    The times, they are a changin’…

  7. Cybernetic SAM

    I would also like to say that people focus on this, as a means to deflect personal choices they make as well such as unhealthy food addictions (i.e. high cholesterol, tanning). Did you know tanning beds cause extreme cases of cancer as well as premature wrinkles? They should giant pictures of peoples skin with severe melanoma on the tops or doors of tanning beds. Also they are starting to link certain synthetics such as MOST cosmetics with breast cancer, so should REVLON start putting breast cancer victims on their packaging?… hmmm so let us just look at the world and say everything is damaging, if people are concerned make better choices not scold adults like children. (Again, remember I am quitting smoking – I don’t disagree with it being bad for you nor do I think is wise to do it).

  8. The "Law"

    Cigarettes are stupid. People who smoke them our stupid. Enough said! Seriously though… Why don’t you enjoy some nice Shards of Glass Popsicle Treats after your next cigarette break… Having lost MANY loved ones to smoking related diseases I find the entire habit disgusting and self destructive. I think the government has every right to DISCOURAGE you from CHOSING to smoke cigarettes, so long as they don’t make the choice for you, after all – all is fair in love and war.

    …. Puff puff pass mother f*cker! 🙂

  9. Moncler Jackets

    Very nice blog, thank you very much for sharing.

  10. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Florida

    I wish I could easily quit smoking cigarettes.
    I really wish the government would ban them, and make selling them a crime.
    It is all too easy to quit, and then start again because cigarettes so easy to get.

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