It’s time to pack in the cigarette pack warnings



By Jon Liedtke — The Lance (CUP)
Photos by Greg Hertz

Windsor (CUP) – The majority of us get it: cigarette smoking isn’t good for you. In fact, it’s downright bad for you. Tobacco use can cause many diseases including heart attack, stroke, emphysema, and cancer. It increases the risk of Crohn’s disease and is the number one cause of bladder cancer.

According to the World Health Organization, roughly 100 million people have died from tobacco use over the course of the 20th century.

From grade school to the end of high school, the majority of educational institutions teach the ills of smoking, and how bad a choice it is to make.

The majority of anti-tobacco messaging, while well-intentioned, doesn’t seem to work. People still smoke at alarming rates. Anti-tobacco literature is placed in every store that sells tobacco, but people still use the products.

The most dramatic form of anti-tobacco literature is on cigarette packaging itself. Legislation from Ottawa last September now requires new labeling on cigarette packages, which covers 75 per cent of the package, and aims to “horrify smokers into not smoking.”

Indeed, with graphic pictures of a cancer-infected mouth or a 42-year-old woman dying of cancer, the images are horrifying. Considering we have a publicly funded health system, I can fiscally understand why the government would want to promote a tobacco-free lifestyle.

The merits of the program aside, many who don’t smoke are offended by the program as well. While cigarettes are hidden behind sealed displays at stores, anyone around a smoker sees these new ads.

Those who don’t even smoke are being levied the burden of being “horrified into not smoking.” They’ve already made the choice not to smoke, so why punish them as well?

Smoking tobacco is a deadly addiction that often claims those closest to us. Having lost family members to smoking, I stand by the government in actively attempting to discourage smoking.

However, I must distance myself from the government in their legislation of cigarette packages. The year is 2012, and we don’t have doctors prescribing cigarettes, or 1950s tobacco jingles devised by Madison Avenue advertisers.

It’s time for the government to treat citizens like educated adults. If the government is seeking to lower tobacco use, provide incentives. Conversely, they could increase taxes on tobacco.

Either way, something should be done that doesn’t limit the ability of a company to determine its packaging. Perhaps we can move as other countries have and simply ban any tobacco-related advertising — thus hiding it entirely from our society.