Saturday, June 24, 2006

Don't Say That Nobody Warned You

It was 42 years ago this week that health warnings first appeared on U.S. cigarette packs.

According to Pamela Villars of the American Cancer Society Quitline, "When these warning came out in 1964 there was a dramatic drop in the rate of smoking across the United States." Still, today, about 20% of Americans still smoke, despite many of them having grown up with the labels.

Other countries have done a little better. In recent years others have required larger, graphic warnings across a much larger area of the cigarette pack. Studies have found that "more prominent warnings had a positive impact both on smokers' knowledge of health risks and intent to quit."

I wonder, however, if after 42 years, people will become so accustomed to even those larger, more graphic warnings that they will still be smoking in these countries. It seems to be a human reaction to ignore things that you are too used to.

Meanwhile, citizens in the U.K. have an opportunity to choose the graphic warning on their next pack. Several designs are online and ready for your reaction.

The bottom line is, how stupid are smokers, really? I find it hard to believe that regardless of whether or not there's any warning on the packaging, or how large or colorful it may be, that there are people lighting up today who don't know it will eventually kill them.

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