Smokers are used to seeing the warnings on packs of cigarettes that tell them why they shouldn’t be smoking—smoking causes cancer, smoking causes heart disease, secondhand smoke can be harmful to others, pregnant women shouldn’t smoke—in fact, they’re so used to seeing the messages that there’s no point to the warnings at all. Smokers keep smoking and new members join their ranks every day.
So the US Food and Drug Administration has proposed to up the ante by making the warnings more than just a line of plain text that is easily ignored, adding pictorial warnings to the packs that take up half the visual real estate on the front, even placing them above the brand logo.
Some of the images are pretty graphic, ranging from a set of rotting teeth to pictures of corpses. Many take a softer sell, like a handful of comic-inspired images.
Will these images have any effect on the number or smokers in the United States? Considering that other draconian measures (like no smoking in bars) haven’t had much of an effect, and no one really looks at their cigarette pack anyway, it seems unlikely.