The FDA's New Cigarette Warnings Are, Like, Totally Awesome!

Last Updated Nov 14, 2010 12:39 PM EST

These new warnings the FDA wants on cigarette packets are going to look totally awesome on Camel's new Williamsburg hipster promo boxes. I'm not joking. You can see a gallery of all the proposed new tobacco warnings here, but it's more important to see them in context in order to realize how ineffectual the new warnings are going to be. Here's how the FDA envisions two of them (at right and below, click to enlarge).

Now check out R.J. Reynolds' (Reynolds American Inc. (RAI)) new Camel promotion, which targets 10 hip neighborhoods across the U.S., such as Austin, Texas, and Brooklyn, N.Y.,'s Williamsburg district. The hipsters of Brooklyn are apparently furious at being accurately portrayed by the the tobacco company. (Ignore them. No one moves to Williamsburg because they want to be ignored.)


Is it just me or will some of these FDA warnings be exactly the kind of thing that will make smoking look cooler and more interesting than ever? What youngster will be deterred by the image of the open-casket funeral in this warning, given America's current love affair with vampires?


Likewise with the toe-tagged corpse, which seems designed specifically to attract the attention of goths:


I'm still searching for the logic behind this image of a woman blowing a bubble. Couple it with the phallic power of a smoke and you can figure out for yourselves whether this will deter or encourage teen boys:


Some pro-tobacco advertisers are outraged by the new rules and foresee a First Amendment battle looming.

I see the opposite: The new labels make news for Big Tobacco, give the companies a new story to tell in their marketing, give consumers something curious to look at (there are 36 -- collect 'em all!), and they underline smoking's best appeal to youth: Danger. Sexy, adult danger.

That's why tobacco companies love regulation: Keeps it legal, keeps it in business.

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