Issue 4, Volume 85
June 13, 2012
The majority of us get it: cigarette smoking isn’t good for you. In fact, it’s downright bad for you. Tobacco use can cause many diseases including healt attack, stroke, emphysema and cancer. It increases the risk of Crohn’s disease and is the number one cause of bladder cancer.
According the World Health Organization, over the course of the 20th century, roughly 100 million people have died from tobacco use. From grade school to the end of high school, the majority of educational institutions teach the ills of smoking, and how bad a choice it is to make.
The majority of anti-tobacco messaging, while meritorious at heart, seemingly doesn’t work. People still smoke at alarming rates. Anti-tobacco literature is placed in every store which sells tobacco, but, people still use the products.
The most dramatic form of anti-tobacco literature is on cigarette packaging itself Approval from Ottawa last September, required new labelling on cigarette packages, which cover 75 per cent of the package, and many do claim that it was meant to “horrify smokers into not smoking.”
Indeed, with graphic pictures of a cancer-infected mouth or a 42-year-old woman dying of cancer, the images are horrifying. Considering we have a publicly funded health system, I can fiscally understand why the government would want to promote a tobacco-free lifestyle.
However, these new packages meant to horrify serve in my opinion the opposite effect. Having spoken with many people regarding this subject recently, the majority stated that the new labelling indeed causes them to want to smoke more frequently.
Merits of the program aside, many who don’t smoke are offended by the program as well. While cigarettes are hidden behind sealed displays at stores, anyone around a smoker sees these new ads.
Those who don’t even smoke are being levied the burden of being “horrified into not smoking”. They already made the choice to not smoke; why punish them as well?
Smoking tobacco is a deadly addiction which often claims those closest to us. Having lost family members to smoking, I stand by the government in actively attempting to discourage smoking.
However, I must distance myself from the government in their legislation of cigarette packages. The year is 2012, and we don’t have doctors prescribing cigarettes, or 1950s tobacco jingles devised by Madison Avenue advertisers.
It’s time for the government to start to treat citizens like educated adults. If the government is seeking to lower tobacco use, provide incentives. Conversely, they could increase taxes on tobacco.
Either way, something should be done which doesn’t limit the ability of a company to determine its packaging. Perhaps we can move as other countries have done and simply ban any tobacco-related advertising and hide it entirely from our society.
Jon Liedtke was the Features and Opinions Editor, Advertising Manager and Deficit Consultant at the UWindsor Lance.