Cigarette Warnings Go Gruesome: Did the Health Police Go Too Far?

Dead bodies? Gaunt cancer patients? A mom blowing smoke at her child? New tobacco warning labels proposed by the FDA include not just words but some pretty graphic images. Can smokers be shocked into quitting? FDA

(FDA)

(CBS) The FDA has really stepped into it with its gruesome new tobacco warning labels.

Some are praising the agency for forcing smokers to confront head-on the health costs of their bad habit. But others - including scores of people who posted comments about CBS News' coverageof the labels - complain that the agency is playing health police.

SLIDESHOW: 33 New Terrifying Tobacco Warning Labels

They argue that smokers already know the dangers posed by smoking and won't be swayed by seeing graphic images of corpses and diseased lungs each time they buy a pack of cigarettes.

"Heavy hitting graphics and statements on posters, radio and TV commercials as well as on cigarette packages can go a long way to providing the 'jolt' needed to either steer someone away from starting to smoke, or to guide them to the realization of the need to quit, Dr. Jonathan Whiteson, medical director of the Cardiac and Pulmonary Wellness and Rehabilitation Program at NYU Langone Medical Center, said in a written statement. "Certainly, the new HHS anti-smoking strategy, like a wake-up call, can provide this momentum to help people quit.

Oh yeah?

"It appears that the FDA thinks that all smokers are ignorant fools," reads one comment posted on the CBS News website. "Unless smokers live in caves with no access to any type of media, smokers are well aware of the possible consequences of tobacco use. A larger, more graphic warning label on cigarette packages is only intended to embarrass and humiliate smokers, as if they are not discriminated against enough as it is... Smokers is a personal choice, and they need to back off and leave smokers alone!"

What do you think? Are the labels a good idea? Or just another opportunity to beat up on smokers?

SLIDESHOW: 33 New Terrifying Tobacco Warning Labels

  • David W Freeman

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