The Food and Drug Administration is currently appealing a ruling of a federal judge blocking graphic warnings about the dangers of smoking on cigarette packs. The FDA originally ruled that the newly designed graphic images were to be on all packs by September 2012. These images are tame compared to other countries such as Canada and Australia. Although the United States was one of the first countries to require health warnings, we now lag behind 30 other countries that require large, graphic cigarette warnings.
The argument the tobacco companies give is by using the graphic warnings, they are essentially helping the government in its endeavors to reduce the number of smokers by adding a 1-800-QuitNow message. They also contend the new graphic images trample on their First Amendment right to free speech by removing their own copyrighted images from the packages and replacing them with government mandated graphic images and warnings.
Individual packs of cigarettes are sold flat with just the end of the pack exposed in stores. Although you can’t see the logo, the people making a purchase already know the name of the brand they want. They don’t buy out of loyalty or because the box is pretty, they buy out of habit. Only young, underage smokers buy for looks, which is why the government wants the graphic images and warnings. You don’t see an adult smoker standing at a counter saying, “Give me the pack with the pretty flowers on the front.”
Perhaps the cigarette companies have a point that it may hurt their sales. Let’s revisit the graphic image mandate. They can keep their logos, but the shape of the package must change to the posted image below.