Dr. Whelan on Warnings That Don t Work

By ACSH Staff — Jul 06, 2011
Diseased lungs. Corpses. Rotting teeth. A man smoking from a tracheotomy hole. These are some of the shocking images featured in the Food and Drug Administration s recently unveiled series of cigarette package warnings. The FDA asserts that these graphic warnings will serve public health by terrifying smokers into quitting. But ACSH s Dr.

Diseased lungs. Corpses. Rotting teeth. A man smoking from a tracheotomy hole. These are some of the shocking images featured in the Food and Drug Administration s recently unveiled series of cigarette package warnings. The FDA asserts that these graphic warnings will serve public health by terrifying smokers into quitting. But ACSH s Dr. Elizabeth Whelan, in an op-ed appearing in National Review Online, has her doubts.

Writing about these Warnings That Don t Work, Dr. Whelan takes into account other countries that have instituted similar labeling policies that, despite the shock value, have failed to have any enduring effect on the rate of smoking. Dr. Whelan recommends smoking cessation initiatives that make use of harm reduction methods like snus (a type of smokeless tobacco in small pouches) and electronic cigarettes, which despite clear evidence of markedly lower health risks are currently prohibited from being advertised as less harmful alternatives to cigarettes. As Dr. Whelan observes,

Cigarette smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death in America. We should be doing everything we can to help smokers to quit and to prevent people from starting in the first place. But the efforts of our federal agencies to pursue such a goal are pathetically ineffective. The new series of gross-out warning labels is just another example.
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