June 23, 2011

Smokescreen

...according to CNN Nine new graphic cigarette warning labels were unveiled Tuesday by the Food and Drug Administration, part of the agency's sweeping new powers to regulate tobacco and tobacco products.

Cigarette packages will now carry one vivid color image and one of these warnings about the consequences of smoking: "Cigarettes are addictive"; "Tobacco smoke can harm your children"; "Cigarettes cause fatal lung disease"; "Cigarettes cause cancer"; "Cigarettes cause strokes and heart disease"; "Smoking during pregnancy can harm your baby"; "Smoking can kill you"; "Tobacco smoke causes fatal lung disease in nonsmokers"; and "Quitting smoking now greatly reduces serious risks to your health."

The warnings will cover the upper portion of the pack both front and back. Fifty percent of the package must be covered. The warnings must also cover at least 20% of a cigarette ad.


I started smoking when I was 12. This was slightly astonishing since my dad had quit under pressure from me two years earlier. But looking back on it one, there wasn't anything anyone could have done. I wanted to smoke.

I quit - cold turkey - when I was 25 and started again when I was 30. I quit for good the day after my daughter was born. Again cold turkey yet with the knowledge that I would never start again.

I wasn't a dumb kid. Even at age 12 I knew there wasn't anything good about lighting something on fire and inhaling the smoke. But I'm pretty sure no warning label was going to scare me into stopping...or not starting to begin with.

I'm not saying the labels are a bad idea. They certainly cat hurt. But there's no replacement for good honest parenting. My daughter is deeply offended when she sees a smoker. Now, who knows, she could be like me and change her mind but I'd like to think that at least for now, we're doing something right.

Do you smoke? Did you ever? Will the new labels help?

Posted by Chris at June 23, 2011 6:34 AM
Comments

I am a deeply ashamed smoker who wants to quit but is not actively trying. I started when I was 24 and have no excuse - sheer stupidity. I know better. I want better. And no, the labels won't work - we've had them in Canada for years, they are kind of a joke (guys won't buy the ones with the "Smoking causes impotency" label, har har). I don't know the answer, for me or for society.

Posted by: Jen at June 23, 2011 7:38 AM

I am a hypocritical smoker, meaning: I dont smoke on a daily basis , i dont allow smoking in my house or car, but if Im drinking beer i always have a cigg.

Posted by: donna at June 23, 2011 7:40 AM

My father was a 2 pack a day smoker from age 14, pretty much right up to his death at 53 from smoking related cancer. Somehow, I managed to never pick up the habit. I used to enjoy the occasional cigar, but his death ruined that for me, so I don't even do that anymore.

Posted by: COD at June 23, 2011 8:15 AM

I've been an on and off smoker ever since I could legally buy a pack (at 16 back then). I just quit again a little over a year ago. I hope I'm done for good. But no, I don't think that the labels will help. If a preson is going to smoke, they're going to smoke. I spent two weeks sitting in an ICU room with my third husband who had gone into complete respiratory failure from the effects of smoking, laid unconscious in his bed on a ventilator, and I went outside dutifully, once every two hours, for a smoke. If I can watch that, know the cause, and still light up - a still picture isn't going to stop me.

Posted by: Julee at June 23, 2011 8:22 AM

I smoked for a while in HS mostly because I thought it was cool to buy them and I was rebelling but mostly I did it when I drank at a shockingly (to me, now) young age looking back (14-ish). I would smoke whilst drinking here and there through my undergrad years but never something that stuck and I stopped doing that all together around 22-23 yrs of age. I will say that having spent time in Canada have you seen those gnarly graphic photos? OMG. However I do not think they stop anyone from smoking.

Posted by: Christina at June 23, 2011 8:41 AM

I smoked from approx 14 (I can't remember exactly when I started...I think it was around ninth grade) until I was 36. I quit 7 years ago (and a few months) cold turkey...just finally got to the point where I wanted to NOT smoke more than I wanted to smoke. So I quit. There isn't a week of those 7 years that I haven't thought of smoking at least once...If they announced that the world was going to end tomorrow, I'd be lighting up as quickly as I could get to a pack of cigarettes.

So, do I think the images on the pack will bother me? Make me think twice? Not if the world was coming to an end. I don't think the images will effect much change.

My husband still smokes. He's tried to quit several times, but always goes back. I know the images might help keep my kid from picking it up later in life, but not sure it will help him quit.

Posted by: cyndy at June 23, 2011 8:50 AM

I never smoked - a couple of cigarettes in college, with a drink, to look cool, but I never picked up the habit. My husband used to smoke when I met him, but gave it up, cold turkey. As he put it after he quit - "I don't miss smoking, I think I miss being young enough not to care about the risks." I think that's true about so many things, right?

Posted by: Susan at June 23, 2011 8:54 AM

I have never smoked, never even wanted to try it. I grew up in a house where both my parents smoked. All their friends smoked. My relatives smoked. I HATED it. I hated smelling like smoke and having a smokey house and ashtrays filled with butts in the sink. Everything about it grossed me out. I fell in love with a smoker and told him I would not marry him unless he quit. And he did, cold turkey.

For the life of me, I do not understand how anyone in this day and age can start smoking. When my parents were young there was not all the information about how damaging and addicting smoking was. Today the information is everywhere! It kills me to see kids as young as 12 and 14 (and younger) smoking!

I really don't see how the new warning pictures are going to prevent smoking. People who are already addicted know what smoking does. But they want/need to smoke. There needs to be more effective ways of helping people quit. If the price of cigarettes doesn't stop people from smoking, a few pictures wont! I even heard people saying it could be like a game, collect them all!

Posted by: Lisa at June 23, 2011 9:02 AM

I did smoke, and then I just decided one day that I hated waking up with the hacking cough every morning, having pneumonia every winter and using my inhaler every day. Yeah, smart right. So I quit cold turkey and told myself there was no going back. That was 11 years ago!
I sure wish my 34 year old daughter would quit.....

Posted by: Maribeth at June 23, 2011 9:12 AM

Now, I'm not saying that many people aren't stupid, because wow, they REALLY ARE, but people who smoke would have to be blind and deaf to not understand the health impact smoking provides. These labels are pointless and are primarily there to 1) Continue the subtle screwing of the tobacco industry into oblivion and 2) Make the gov't feel like it's a benevolent parent intent on protecting its sheep. People will continue to pay whatever a pack costs, regardless of what's shown on the outside of them.

Posted by: You can call me, 'Sir' at June 23, 2011 9:16 AM

The labels creep me out. I'm not a smoker and I'm actually pretty vocal with my disdain for the habit, but. . .something about it seems like a violation. I think it's a mixed message to put the label on a pack of cigarettes that someone's already bought, with the intention to smoke. I mean. . .is this the audience they need to be reaching?? Plus, they're pretty gory. It's bad enough that my kids have to see their grandma smoking cigarettes, but now they get to see grotesque pictures along with it. . .I don't know. Just my two cents.

Posted by: seeking elevation at June 23, 2011 9:33 AM

I am a smoker. I was born to a smoking birthmother, adopted by two heavy smokers and started when I was 11.

I have quit a few times in my life (during pregnancy and twice outside of that).

I know it is bad for me. I know it is doing damage to my health.

I have always told me kids to NEVER pick it up. They HATE it. HATE it. I have never made it "glamorous" or "cool" and have pretty much always advertised it to them as a very dirty, disgusting habit.

I still continue to try to quit. I make no excuses. I'm weak. I will keep fighting the good fight and admit when I fail.

I found out Tuesday (after a 3 week terrifying roller-coaster ride) that I do NOT have breast cancer. My children are all over me to quit RIGHT now. Having a hard time.

I do think that the fact that I've gone from being a 2 pack a day smoker to a 5 cig a day smoker in the last 3 years has done a little good, though.

Yes, I am ashamed of my habit. I am an overly polite smoker that is all too aware of how bad it smells and do everything I can to not subject others to that.

I've seen the photos. I've been in the medical field for 20 years. I have seen the REAL people it effects. But when it comes to the addiction, the reality doesn't make it easier to squash it.

Posted by: Holly Reynolds at June 23, 2011 9:48 AM

I'm a long time smoker, my mom smoked while she was pregnant with me, both my parents smoke now even though Mom's got COPD and is supposed to carry oxygen around, and dad is in the hospital right this minute with pneumonia and congestive heart failure. I've smoked since I was 15 years old, I'm 40 now. I am well-educated and intelligent. I know exactly what smoking does to a person.

If all of that doesn't make me quit smoking, a few pictures on a pack of cigarettes certainly isn't.

Quitting is hard. And please don't tell me that lots of people have quit. Yes they have, and I'm thrilled for them. I've quit lots of things too, including methamphetamine cold turkey. For me personally, quitting cigarettes is the single most difficult thing I've ever tried to do in my life. The last time I tried to quit, I practically mugged a guy that was standing outside my office building smoking.

I don't know what will finally make me quit. I always swore that it would be when I got pregnant but that (pregnancy) never happened. Maybe it will take getting cancer, I sincerely hope not. But all these warnings and pictures and attempts to shame me into quitting are doing nothing but wasting money that could be spent in much better ways.

Posted by: sherri at June 23, 2011 10:36 AM

I know what you are saying... all of us one day get exposed to peer pressure and may succomb to the wish to belong, which is why I started smoking when I was about 14 (then I stopped at 18, slowly started again to be a full on smoker at 22 and have now stopped for good for 5 years).
When you are young it's hard to conceptualise how lifestyle choices can cause you harm in the future. I knew lung cancer was a risk when I was 14 but I also knew it was very unlikely I get it any time soon, which kind of meant never in my head then.
This is why I think the labels may not be very effective in a way.
But what I do like about them is that they represent a big shift from the previous glorification of smoking (Marlboro cowboy anyone?). So I think they need to stay.
Also, when your daughter is a teen, tell her that cigarettes give you bad breath which is very unattractive to boys. That might do the trick ;)

Posted by: Alejandra at June 23, 2011 10:43 AM

I'm surprised to see all the smokers chiming in. Thought I was the only pariah.

I've quit twice for about 3 years at a stretch and am working my way toward quitting again. At 73 it probably won't make a lot of difference health wise but it would sure save money.

Three of my kids smoked but quit although the Army kid (now 43) switched over to chewing (disgusting).

I think the labels and other warnings might discourage someone who has never smoked. Maybe. I wonder if I would have started back in the early 50's if A: It hadn't been made so attractive in ads, movies, etc. and B: If my folks hadn't been so vehement (I never even thought about it until they started the lectures which were a red flag in front of a bull). I don't know but I do wonder why any kid picks up a cigarette today knowing what we know now. I suppose nothing changes - kids will always think they're immortal and it won't happen to them. Smoking, drinking, recreational drugs, reckless driving, internet social networks (some people are "fiends", not "friends". Ranting - sorry but after 3 generations I may have learned a little about kids - starting with me which makes it 4 generations.

Do the "drink responsibly" disclaimers on liquor ads help? Or calorie counts in restaurants?

Personally, I think if we really want to quit, we will and without the money making gimmicks. What helps more than anything else is a support system - even online.

Posted by: ann adams at June 23, 2011 11:17 AM

These labels will probably work as well as "This is your brain . . . This is your brain on drugs". I guess since we no longer have a drug problem in this country, this was the logical next step.

Posted by: pegnandy at June 23, 2011 11:54 AM

My mom died when I was 16 from lung cancer, directly related to her smoking most of her life. She was 51. That was probably the biggest influence on me- I have never even taken one 'drag' off a cigarette (or any other smokable thing). My dad didnt stop smoking until he was 61 (he started at 9). 8 months ago he died of a vicious lung disease directly related to smoking, even though he had quit over 24 years prior.

I have 3 sons. All are aware how passionately I am against smoking, and why. My oldest (29) tried smoking in college, but thankfully quit shortly after starting. My 2nd started at some time around 17, and at age 25 is still smoking (he's tried quitting several times, to no avail). My youngest (21) is as adamantly against smoking as I am.

Having never been a smoker, I can't even imagine how hard it is to quit.

I believe everyone has a reason, good or bad, for starting smoking, and I don't believe that they can be deterred from at least trying it, if that is what they set in their mind to do.

I wish we could post those warnings on something other than a pack of cigarettes. Seems a bit after the fact at that point. I'm all for the 'shock' type advertising/teaching at maybe the 5-6th grade level, when kids are dealing with the pressures to try things.

Congratulations to you for having quit 6-ish years ago. Keep up the good work!

Posted by: 3jaysmom at June 23, 2011 12:03 PM

I have never smoked, not a single inhalation of any smokable...uh...stuff. My grandparents were smokers. My stepdad was a smoker, my mom smoked for a while. I did not dig it. Smoking was a deal breaker for any guy who wanted to date me. I don't know about labels. I suppose the graphic nature of the new ones might get through to some people that otherwise would ignore the current ones. But they pretty much already say, hey, this stuff can kill you, and people still smoke, so I don't know. My parents never took hard stances on smoking, drugs, alcohol, or sex; perhaps they knew I wasn't into any of that and didn't press the point. I guess I just picked up the no-no vibe from after school specials and school.

Posted by: Brooke at June 23, 2011 12:35 PM

I never have smoked a single thing -- ever, and I hate being subjected to someone else's cigarette/cigar/whatever smoke. My mom smoked when I was young (not during her pregnancy with me, though), and I hated it so much that I begged her to quit -- and she did, cold turkey.

Most of my friends are non-smokers (I don't choose or make friends based on whether or not they smoke), I married a non-smoker, and if members of my extended family smoke, they are generally courteous enough to take it outside, away from the doors/windows. I've just never liked how it smells, looks, etc., and I've never understood it. I also will never know or understand how difficult it is to kick the habit.

The thing that bothers me the most about smoking is that when people decide to smoke, they're also making the decision for non-smokers to have to inhale the dirty, smoky air they've exhaled. There's nothing I hate more than having to walk through someone's cloud of smoke outside of some store, restaurant, or other business. Basically, I'm forced to breathe it in because I *have* to breathe, and often, one cannot tell that there is a cloud of smoke waiting there for them to inhale. I couldn't have been happier when states/cities started banning smoking indoors in public places. I think it's more of a basic right to be able to breathe in CLEAN air than someone else having a right to DIRTY up the clean air with their cigarette smoke (which was their own personal decision).

Of course, I'm all for people being able to make their own decisions, but when it comes to the health and well-being of those who are forced to live with someone else's decision... well, that's when it gets kinda hairy. Especially in today's (mostly) self-centered society.

Will the pictures stop smokers from smoking? No, I don't believe they will. Some entrepreneur is going to design and sell cigarette pack "sleeves" to cover up those new pictures, or the need to feed the addiction will cancel out any negative thoughts or feelings the pictures convey. Will they deter non-smokers or youngsters from picking up the habit? Perhaps, but again, if someone wants to do something, well, in most cases, they will.

Sorry for being so long-winded, but this issue kinda hits a sore spot for me. Do whatever you want to do... but just don't force me to live by your decision and its consequences. ;o)

Posted by: ironic1 at June 23, 2011 3:53 PM

I was a "party smoker" in college. Both of the serious boyfriends that I had during my four years in college were smokers, so when we hung out or went to parties, I'd smoke. I think I only bought two or three packs ... they were expensive for a college kid even 15 years ago. I WAS very good at bumming them off guys at a bar tho... and I was notorious for stealing lighters.

Posted by: Kim at June 23, 2011 9:35 PM

So here's my question - if it's THAT taboo, isn't that why teenagers want to do anything? Making it MORE taboo seems like a terrible idea.

Posted by: alektra at June 24, 2011 7:33 AM

I started when I was 13. I smoked straight through until I was about 22, then quit for 14 months. Started again. Quit for a few months. Started again. I'm currently in "started again", again. Hopefully one of these days I'll make it back to quit and mean it.

Posted by: Debra at June 24, 2011 8:41 AM

I started when I was 13 and quit when I was 19. Nasty habit that I'm glad I was able to quit. The thing that gets me is walking into the Cancer Agency and seeing people deathly pale, on iv's smoking outside the doors....that I don't get.

Posted by: Lujza at June 26, 2011 10:56 PM

The only smokers I know, have parents who smoke. Your point about parenting is spot-on.

No, the labels won't help. The best thing we've done to cut down smoking is ban it from public places and tax the hell out of it.

Posted by: Brad at June 27, 2011 10:29 AM

I kind of agree with the comment from Sherri. The people who smoke do so for a reason and I doubt any warning label is going to deter them. I don't know the statistics, maybe they prove otherwise, but labels like this seem like a waste of time and money,and probably a drain on our courts. Maybe instead of putting a warning label they can crack down harder on establishments that sell cigarettes to minors. Instead of a $100 fine, how about a $10,000 fine. I'd rather see my legislators try to work on the economy or fix a pothole or two.

Posted by: Daddy by Default at June 27, 2011 11:17 AM

no smokers here

Posted by: cassie-b at June 27, 2011 11:41 AM

I never did smoke. I had a few cigarillos when I was 18, the ones that were port wine flavoured but never finished the pack I bought. (Illegally. Shame, shame.)

Posted by: Heather at June 27, 2011 12:56 PM

I started smoking at the age of 18 due to peer pressure - most of my then friends & my cousins smoked. So I joined up. I was never a regular smoker, I did it when I was with them. I could barely finish a pack in a week. At the age of 22 I realized that it was dumb and I quit. Haven't touched it in 12 years since then.

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