BEACON TRANSCRIPT – It appears that those ugly warning labels are actually helping smokers quit or, at the very least, makes them seriously consider it. Smoking is still a major issue around the world, and the problem is prevalent in the United States. The numbers are reportedly down, yet still high.
In the U.S. alone, the annual victims of cigarette smoking are around half a million, according to the authors of the study from the Ohio State University. The big numbers have been on a steady decline since the 1990s, and yet the death rate remains in a far too high amount considering they’re entirely preventable conditions.
In order to trim down those numbers, 77 countries around the world decided to take the campaigns directly to the smokers. They plastered a series of graphic images with the brutal and disturbing consequences of smoking. It placed the picture right into the attention of the smoker, showing off teeth rotting, lung cancer, or throat infections.
In 2009, the U.S. followed suit by adding a series of nine images that were created by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the purpose of showing the effects of smoking, along with text. This included both the graphic pictures and warnings of lung cancer, throat cancer, heart disease, harm to unborn babies, impotence, or several other conditions. However, the D.C. Circuit Court ruled against the images under the reason that the images were “unconstitutional and unabashed attempts to evoke emotions”.
Essentially, it was accused that the graphic pictures were attempting to instill fear and disgust that would make smokers consider quitting. Now the issue remains on whether that’s truly a bad thing, according lead author of the study, Dr. Abigail Evans. The images portrayed true consequences, albeit in extreme situations, but they were still genuine possibilities.
The researchers conducted a study on nearly 300 adults who smoked between 5 and 40 cigarettes every day. Each were given their favorite brand but with a bit of a difference. Some showed warning text, other warning graphic images, and the last displayed both on the packs. For 4 weeks, the participants came back for their cigarettes and were asked to report their thoughts on smoking.
Apparently, those who received packs with the disturbing images were much more inclined to consider quitting. After staring for weeks at pictures displaying the effects of tobacco use, they were more inclined to think about renouncing their vice. According to Dr. Evans, their study proves that those graphic images that have been removed as a requirement do have a purpose. And, they actually provide results.
They do provoke emotion, but it’s emotion that forces change. The images had the purpose of a spotlight. It forced smokers to better consider their decisions, and encourage them to quit. The impact was small, but it was there. That should be enough. Given the high death rate among smokers, every bit of help is significant.
Image source: salon.com