This week the FDA unveiled to the public some of the graphic images they plan to require cigarette companies to include on their packaging in 2012. All of these images are supposed to show how smoking cigarettes can have a negative impact on your health. With all of the media attention and campaigns against smoking we see today, it is hard to believe that smokers are not already aware of the risks they are taking by choosing to smoke. That leaves the question, will posting pictures like this really make people put down the cigarettes? If the FDA really wants to cease or prevent smoking they need to focus their attention to the fact that smoking is an addiction. The majority of Americans today have some type of addiction, whether it be to food, excessive spending, drugs, alcohol or smoking cigarettes. Many Americans have found a way to “cope” via unhealthy means.
Even the most hardcore addicts typically have enough insight to realize their addiction is not conducive to their overall well being. This is not an issue of people being uninformed, it is an issue of people being unequipped to handle the challenge of quitting. It seems the FDA would be much more successful in eliminating smoking if they focused their attention on finding new and affordable ways to help people beat their addiction, rather than just repetitively distributing the same information that the large majority of smokers are already apprised to. Many smokers who would like to quit are put off by the sheer cost of the anti-smoking regimens presently available.
A more common sense approach would be to focus funds and research into ways to make such programs and treatments available to all Americans with the desire to break the habit. Realistically, a picture of a blackened lung or a baby with a solemn face surrounded by cigarette smoke isn’t going to stop a smoker from firing one up. After a pack or two of these newly adorned cigarette boxes, smokers will begin to ignore the pictures and after a few more, they probably forget there is anything different about the package at all. As far as discouraging our youth from starting up, well the fact is, no one begins smoking because they think it will help them run the 10K or tack on 5 years to their life span. Children in society today are warned at every turn about the hazards smoking poses to their health, and no amount of advertising or scary photographs are going to dissuade them if that is the path they choose to go down. Truth be told, most children start smoking because there is an adult in their lives that smoke and they have easy access to the cigarettes when the time to experiment comes.
The real key here is to focus on the existing adult smokers and giving them the proper tools to help them beat the addiction. If kids are not seeing adults around them smoking, then cigarettes will eventually lose their appeal. Smoking will no longer be considered the “grown up” thing to do, and the problem will begin to slowly solve itself. Unfortunately, it seems our government is more concerned with wasting enormous amounts of time and money on ridiculous concepts that really do nothing but cause a lot of chatter in the media. Until the emphasis is put where it truly needs to be, it seems the smoking problem is likely to remain a prevalent one in this country.