Tobacco manufacturers R.J. Reynolds, makers of Camel and Winston, and Lorillard, makers of Newport and Kent, were in court to argue against the Food and Drug Administrations mandated warnings on cigarette packs which is to go into effect in September 2012. The cigarette packs must be redesigned to include graphic pictures of smoking-related diseases and a warning label which is to take up half of the front of a pack, plus a 1-800-QUIT NOW number for tobacco cessation. If the tobacco companies use printed advertising, the warning label must take up to 20 percent of a page.
The tobacco companies are arguing against the new labels because they claim it violates their First Amendment rights; they are forced to use their packaging to convey the message that their lawful product is dangerous. They also argued that the warnings aren’t needed because everybody knows that smoking is bad for you. The dangers of their products have always been there, but the tobacco companies spent millions of dollars and decades advertising that those dangers did not exist, or that more research was needed.
When scientific data started linking smoking with lung cancer in the 1930s, tobacco companies countered that information with advertisements using medical personnel to tout the safety of their product. These scientific pillars-of-the-community were used in endorsing various cigarette brands in bright, colored advertising. After all, these learned people–doctors, dentists, nurses and scientists–wouldn’t use a product if it wasn’t safe, would they? The public bought into the deception.
Cigarettes seemed to be the cure-all-for-whatever-ails-you. They were advertised as part of a good meal, to aid in helping you digest your food. The public bought Chesterfields because a doctor looking through a microscope proclaimed it had “no unpleasant after-taste.” They bought Lucky Strikes because it was “toasted,” “which removes dangerous irritants that cause throat irritation and coughing.” Cigarettes advertisements even proclaimed you could stay slim if you smoked instead of eating a sweet.
The new graphic cigarette labels will feature the true look of smoking with diseased lungs, stained teeth, and an autopsy photo, along with six other images. It is difficult to argue that a smoking addiction is healthy when the pictures are in front of you.
Check out more cigarette ads here.