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Cigarette Packaging

Updated on January 11, 2016
  • Tobacco companies are required to include warning labels on cigarette packaging. It has been recommended that they illustrate the effects of cigarette smoking. These images are quite graphic; examples include diseased lungs and a man exhaling cigarette smoke through his neck by way of a tracheotomy hole.

    Respond to the following questions:

    1. How do you feel about these regulations?

    2. Will this type of packaging make a difference in the number of people who smoke? If not, can you think of other ways to encourage people to quit or prevent others from starting this habit?

    3. Do you think these kinds of labels should be used to deter people from purchasing unhealthy foods? For instance, should soda labels have pictures of rotting teeth?

Tobacco companies are now required by law to include a warning label on their cigarette packages. While there are currently no laws that require tobacco companies to illustrate the effects of cigarette smoking, it has been strongly recommended. The suggested images include that of diseased lungs and a man exhaling cigarette smoke through his neck by way of a tracheotomy hole; these images are very graphic, yet they are a true prediction of the effects of cigarette smoking. I agree with these regulations and believe that the images on the effects of cigarette smoking should also be mandatory on all cigarette packages. While some people could argue about the graphic nature of the images, there is really no reason that people should not be forced to acknowledge the effect of the product they are using. The only reason not to include such information and images is so that tobacco companies can continue to profit at the expense of the health of the person smoking.

Graphic warning labels should be required because it has been proven that graphic warning labels do reduce the number of smokers. While the United States does not require graphic warning labels Canadian law does require all cigarette boxes to have a graphic warning label (González, 2013). This law has led to a 2.9 to 4.7 percentage point drop in smoking rates in Canada; if the law was put into effect in the United States it is estimated that there would be 5.3 to 8.6 million fewer smokers in the United States (González, 2013). Warning labels and graphic images might not encourage everyone to quit or prevent others from starting the habit, but if it makes even one person reconsider their decision to smoke or decide not to start smoking, then in my mind, it is worth it.

Warning labels and graphic should be used to make sure the user is fully aware of the consequences of their actions; however this should only extend to products where the product directly affects the person’s health in a serious way, like causing premature deaths; cigarette smoking causes an average of 443,000 deaths annually (Hales, 2013, p. 450).Warning labels should not be required by law to be placed on unhealthy foods and drinks. Instead of putting a warning label on these foods and beverages there could be a suggestion box. For instance, on the topic of soda, instead of putting a picture of rotting teeth there could be a suggestion box with a picture of a tooth brush that reads “brush your teeth after soda to keep them healthy” or there could be a fun fact on how brushing after soda reduces your risk of rotten teeth. For an unhealthy food item like Oreos the suggestion box could say something like “two Oreos a day are okay, but no more” or “make sure you are only having one sweet a day, but why not make them two Oreos”; these kinds of message would be cute, child friendly, and inform the person about how to have the food without being unhealthy. I feel that this type of label would both advise the person eating or drinking the product of the nature of the product as well as inform them on moderation or how to combat the negative effects of the product.


González, S. (2013, November 25). Graphic warning labels on cigarette packages reduce
smoking rates. Retrieved October 23, 2015, from

Hales, D. (2013). Invitation to Health: Live It Now (16th ed.). Cengage Learning.


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