Canadian smokers will notice their cigarette packages have gotten a bit of a gruesome makeunder as the new, mandatory labelling’covering three-quarters of the package’has taken effect.
The new packaging features graphic images such as cancerous mouths, and an emaciated Barb Tarbox, dying of lung cancer. (Tarbox died at age 42 after years of being an anti-smoking activist).
Despite new statistics revealing that fewer Canadians are smoking since the first health warning labels were introduced in 1989, some are skeptical that these images are in fact effective.
"Does anyone seriously believe that Canadians don’t already know the risk of smoking?" Imperial Tobacco Canada’s vice-president of corporate affairs asked in a statement released by the company in April. "Increasing the size of the warning from 50 to 75 percent will not lead to any measurable change to public awareness."
One study published in 2009 suggested that the more gruesome-looking images actually heightened anxiety about the threat of death, in turn increasing their desire to reach for a calming cigarette.
Here’s something else to consider from the Globe and Mail’s Hot Button Blog: could a guilt trip from a cute child be more effective than graphic cigarette labels? This Thai commercial (see video below) features small children holding a cigarette and approaching smokers for a light. The smokers obviously warn these young, adorable children about the health risks of smoking, prompting the children to respond: "So why are you smoking?"
I don’t think anyone wants to see a cute, little child harming their self by smoking (who can forget the outrage over the Indonesian smoking baby), so it makes me wonder: Could the desire to set a good example for and protect children from smoking be a more effective way to quit the habit?
Which approach do you think is more effective?