STAFF EDITORIAL | Labeling the risks of smoking

Last week the Food and Drug Administration announced that they will be implementing the use of disturbing labels on cigarette packages, depicting the gruesome effects of smoking.

While we at The Butler Collegian feel as though this is a step in the right direction, we do not believe that it will be as effective as some hope.

The images, which include tar-filled lungs, individuals with stomas and babies being engulfed in smoke appear to be shocking and scary but do not do enough to get to the root of the problem.

By October 2012, these labels will be mandated by the government to be placed on every tobacco product.

According to, about 444,000 Americans die each year from smoking or from smoking related causes. With this many deaths, it is no wonder that the FDA is working tirelessly to educate the American public about the dangers of cigarettes.

This may be effective in keeping young smokers from starting, but we do not think it will work to prevent seasoned smokers from continuing their habits.

It is estimated that 20 percent of adults are fully addicted smokers. The labels, 36 in total, will be narrowed down to nine. Of these 36, a few of the depictions are in cartoon form.

Usage of these cartoon warnings by the FDA would be a waste of money because they are not serious enough in nature. They do not have the desired effect that actual images of these smoking related diseases would have.

This campaign is all part of President Obama’s initiative to decrease smoking. While we applaud the effort to place these warning labels on cigarettes, we feel that these efforts might be better if focused in other areas, specifically on attempts to get individuals who are addicted to stop their smoking habit.

This could be better accomplished by meaningful attempts to get people to quit as opposed to scare tactics, like these warning labels.

Instead, support groups should be created that seek to help people diminish their smoking habit and assist them in the process. This can be done through counseling, educational programs and literature.

What is bothersome is that, while the attack on the smoking industry is not completely baseless due to the amount of individuals who are killed each year from smoking, alcohol abuse is a major contributor to deaths in the country as well.

Alcohol kills 75,000 Americans per year to tobaccos 444,000. According to, “it is the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States after tobacco use and poor eating and exercise habits.”

If the FDA is serious about diminishing these preventive deaths, they should work to implement these warning labels on alcoholic beverages as well. Perhaps this more stringent legislation towards the tobacco industry was inspired by the fact that tobacco companies lied to the American public for years about what was actually in cigarettes.

They also failed to point out the gruesome effects that smoking would have on an individual. According to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “smoking related deaths still cost the nation about $92 billion a year.”

It is clear that this issue needs to be addressed, but the current method that the U.S. government and FDA suggest is not as productive as it could be. We would rather a more forceful approach be taken in an attempt to get veteran smokers to quit and try to save their already damaged health.