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Thursday, 27 January, 2000, 14:40 GMT
Smoking: Are shock ads acceptable?
Is this an effective and fair way of tackling smoking? Or is it a step too far?
Do you think shock ads will work? Or are smokers perfectly aware of the risks, and should be left alone?
Come on, everyone knows that only people that smoke are the ones who will complain about it. So, big deal if you can't handle the truth about what really may happen then maybe that's a good indication you shouldn't have started the habit in the first place. And, it just might be giving you a hint to STOP. And, also I don't think the fact that smokers always kick back in public areas and give me a little bit of their poison is that tasteful either.
Consider a system of Government that shows diseased lungs etc. on cigarette packages and is toying with the idea of legalising marijuana. Has this whole world gone mad?
Smoking is a dangerous habit as ever smoker knows. However medical literature states that 2% of smoker give up per year as a result of confrontation from their GP (or Primary Health Care Team). A substantially larger proportion give up with will power and the aid of nicotine patches. We all know it is bad and we shouldn't do it, maybe the shock treatment is what some people need to make them consolidated in their thought to quit.
I am in the opinion that shock tactics are the very best method as a deterrent. I saw this documentary on TV once, where this dead-bloke (died from total lung failure) had his lungs pulled out of his chest for a post-mortem, laden with puss & dripping with tar. I can tell you - I will never smoke ever again!!!!
You quit smoking because you want to, not because people tell you to. And what of alcohol? It causes damage to the body too, are they going to put wasted kidneys and livers on beer bottles? Food too, Are there going to be pictures of obese people on every chocolate bar? I think not. Where would it stop? Is there any proof it would work in the first place?
Make the adverts as realistic as possible, Create controversy, Appal the nation. Adults will still continue to smoke as will the children who are just as informed of the consequences. The problem will not cease until smoking areas are limited to the minimum, discipline is the problem. None of us really believe we will die from our own actions.
It's all very well the smokers getting on their high horse about being allowed to have the choice to damage their bodies by smoking, but what about those of us around smokers who have to breath in their acrid, foul smelling expelled air? What about my freedom of choice not to breath in other people's smoke?
A large proportion of smokers (including me) start during adolescence. Most know full well what the health risks are, but it's too long-term to matter to a teenager. Something that I didn't know at the time, but that might have made me think twice is this: IF YOU START SMOKING, YOU SMELL BAD UNTIL YOU GIVE UP FOR GOOD. How about a campaign to 'sniff out the smokers'?
To us non-medical types, even
healthy hearts and lungs look pretty
gruesome. I don't know we're
equipped to distinguish tobacco
damage so that we're suitably
shocked by it.
No individual loses anything from such a campaign so why are so many people resenting it?
I have to say that the only reason I am an anti-smoking fascist is because I saw my beloved grandfather die of lung cancer.
I am also allergic to cigarette smoke and have had several nights out RUINED by other peoples revolting nicotine stink. And I mean RUINED. I have had to leave concerts, clubs and pubs because I can't breathe any more.
So, I feel I have good reason to want the disgusting vile habit BANNED.
In Thailand we have warnings on how smoking could damage your health written on every pack, but most of the smokers pretend not to see it. I think that images are not going to make much of a difference either. I suggest we offer the smokers a free medical check up. I'm sure the results would stop at least some of them from smoking.
I have seldom seen such a collection of unpleasant, illiberal opinions than those that have appeared on this page. The anti-smoking campaign must be about the only area where it's acceptable to say, as Sarah does "I am a bit of a fascist". If you're happy to extinguish the rights to smokers, then a lot of other rights and freedoms will be next in line.
This decision in the context of smoking might be a good one, but it would surely set a dangerous precedent for other products to follow and then what? Where would it stop and where do we draw the line?
Why are people so keen on stopping people from smoking?
We already live in a society where the old are living longer, the population of the world is ever increasing. Smoking acts as an effective method of keeping the population
in check while creating taxes for the government, keeping people in employment (NHS workers, tobacco growers etc, the list is endless).
Graphic images will do nothing to reduce the amount already smoked. However, it may mean fewer people start smoking. Let's restrict the images to the packets themselves, and not subject the rest of us to gory pictures. Let's face it, the rest of us don't smoke because we don't want to waste what precious life we have.
Mike Campbell, UK
This type of advertising is fair play. Smokers who enjoy smoking and don't want to stop will continue regardless of advertising campaigns. Why would anybody complain about such an advert? Is it because it makes them worry about the damage they could be doing to themselves, or have already done?
I think Fraser has hit the nail on the head. If you triple the price and cut to a third the number of smokers then everyone wins. Fewer smokers but the same revenue to the treasury. The only losers are the fag companies.
There will of course be significant protest and probably legal action by the tobacco companies, but whether it happens on the government schedule remains to be seen.
I would prefer to see action by all provinces and governments that mirrors recent B.C. legislation banning smoking in any place where some one is working. Any public building should post its property as no smoking within as large a radius as feasible.
The only smoking room any business should allow near it should be outside at 40 below it will at least make for a few very short smoke breaks.
K.C. Gustafson, Canada
I agree with the Canadian government. If the photos on packets of cigarettes can make just one man give up smoking, it is already worth it.
Here in Brazil we have companies making good profits selling methods for those who intend to give up smoking. And we know that those methods don't work.
So, why not use the photos?
Unfortunately people who choose to smoke have ignored the advice given by people who see the horrific results of smoking everyday. For those smokers words are not enough. They must be shown the results of smoking on their bodies. This is the thinking behind the campaign. Let us hope it has some impact on smokers. If educating smokers does not work. Then at some point more direct measures may have to be considered.
The argument that smokers should be free to choose is invalid... Their irresponsibility costs the governments (NHS) and other tax-payers a lot of money. Your freedom must stop where other people's freedom starts.
Vivien Cooksley, Cyprus
During the thirty years that I smoked I never saw a picture of a diseased lung, I wish I would have, then maybe I would have quit sooner. I quit two years ago, and I'm so proud of myself
As a Canadian I think it odd that the government is taking this step now while still collecting almost half the price of a pack of cigarettes in "sin tax". Also several years ago the amount of tax on cigarettes was raised substantially (granted not to encourage people to quit): there was such a hue and cry that the government quickly withdrew the extra tax. As an ex-smoker I say hit them in their wallets and use the tax for our ailing health system!
It is another effort to control the consumption of smoking. Therefore it is acceptable. If a person can see a heart the way the person's heart may become, it can make the person think if he/she values their lives. The person will ask himself/herself questions such as: What am I doing to my body? Am I a murderer? Am I another victim of smoking? Can I be brave enough to stop it?
If I was in government and I was given the job of getting people to stop smoking, I would do one thing - TRIPLE the price of a packet of cigarettes and really make people have a good reason to stop. And I'd put the money to good use, improving the health service and education. People who are stupid enough to smoke and spoil the life they were given along with many other lives too, deserve to be taxed to the hilt, in my opinion.
As an ex-pat, I'm amazed by how cheap cigarettes are here.
I believe smokers should pay for the additional health care they need.
The only way that smoking will cease is when there are no NEW smokers.
We need to convince the next generation that smoking is DUMB.
As long as kids think it's cool and mature, the tobacco giants will continue to make millions.
If these shock images work -- great, if they don't then they'll stop.
we must try everything possible.
These ads are about making smokers face up to the reality of what they are doing to themselves - that has to be a good thing. I do agree with the guy from Cairo who says it's a little hypocritical of governments to produce this sort of advertising while still permitting us to poison ourselves. Incidentally, I am a 10 a day smoker.
Knowing something is labelled 'bad' is a sure-fire way of hooking the rebellious teenager. How about just raising the minimum age one year every year? That way the existing addicts can kill themselves, but no new victims are hooked.
I think the prospect is disgraceful. Many were quick to attack the Benetton ads featuring a newborn baby, but the thought of graphic imagery to 'put people off' from smoking is acceptable? I think not. This new concept in refraining people from smoking will merely offend and disgust. If a person wishes to buy a packet of cigarettes, is it within the right of health officials to plaster graphic imagery over the front in order to shock? I believe there are more tactful and mature ways of preventing people from smoking should they wish to do so!
As a non-smoking Canadian, I don't want to view images of body parts when I walk the streets and see discarded packages. If smoking is so bad than just ban it!
Michael Deman, Cairo
He who runs reads only the brand name. The more noticeable the ad, the more are reminded of the brand, and the myth that they are addicted.
Without photographic evidence it is easy to kid ones self into believing no serious damage is being done.
Being confronted with the photographic facts would certainly hasten the end of my own love-hate relationship with cigarettes. This Canadian Government campaign will eventually strike a chord with even the most avid smoker. Way to go Canada!
Ken Moffitt, North Carolina - USA
Probably not! If smokers are not intelligent enough to quit with all the information now available today, they basically lack the will to quit. How then, do you educate an idiot?
Good health is not a concern for smokers, so pretty little printed warnings are useless. Give them a picture of a mouth full of disgusting, brown, smoke-stained teeth, however, and most people all of a sudden see a tangible reason to kick the habit.
If it saves one life it will be worth the effort.
I think it's ridiculous. People are today well aware of the dangers of smoking. What's next - photographs of blocked arteries on fast food containers?
I object to being told "facts" by a bunch of hypocrites who rake in the money hand over fist, whilst telling people to give up. The NHS argument is spurious in the extreme, that the over-stretched NHS would not be under such strain if it weren't for smokers and drinkers etc.
There is such a thing as freedom of choice, and as long as such freedoms exist I shall merrily shorten my life in any way I see fit.
Don Bronson, UK
I have recently given up smoking but only because I was determined to do so - I have in the past looked at pictures of diseased lungs and hearts, and it did shock me enough to think about giving up more seriously ... I say the more images of suffering and diseases caused by smoking put on cigarette packs, the better! And there should be the same kind of advertising on billboards, and in the press!
I am a rather heavy smoker but absolutely do not mind any government putting any signs and horror pictures on the packs. I am fully aware of the consequences and disadvantages of smoking but it is my personal decision and I only can decide for myself whether to quit or not.
There isn't a person alive who does not know the adverse effects of smoking. These "shock tactics" are a waste of time. The aim should be to prohibit smoking in all public places to protect the rights of the non-smoker. Those who choose to smoke know the risks. I thank them for the valuable revenue they generate in taxation (reducing my tax bill). They even save the NHS and country money as they die early, reducing the burden on the pension budget. Keep smoking please - you're doing it for your country!
Although not smoking myself, I have many friends who do and socially it poses me no problems. However, whilst the government receives much revenue from the tax imposed on cigarettes, they also pay out a huge quantity of tax payers money (many of whom do not smoke) to the NHS to care for smokers when they are suffering from Emphysema, Lung Cancer or one of the many other diseases medically and statistically linked to smoking. Surely the paternal state owes a duty to discourage this unfair burden however it can.
As someone who smoked for 8 years, and just recently quit: Although the adds had an impact - more guilt than anything - the choice to quit was simply my choice.
John Livesey, England
I think this is an excellent idea and should be adopted in this country. I believe people should not turn a blind eye to the effects of smoking. I don't believe that using these images are scare tactics since scare tactics implies that the 'bad' thing shown is not likely to happen. But many smokers do suffer these problems so by displaying images of cancerous lungs you are educating smokers to the effects smoking has.
Absolutely not! I am not a smoker and every time I see one of those ads, it causes me anxiety. It is practically harassing to be submitted to pictures like that and I wouldn't be surprised if there are consumer lawsuits.
I smoked for 16 years and only gave up when I finally wanted to. Endless warnings on (very expensive) cigarette packets did not put me off. Spend the money on educating children not to take up this addictive habit (show them the gory details they are planning to put on cigarette packets). Smoking has become the epidemic of our era and this killer needs to be eradicated.
We all know that anything targeted by blatant rhetoric from the government immediately gains status with the youth; pictures of diseased organs on cigarette packets will become the next generation's inside joke, and nothing more.
What's the point of shock ads? People already know the risks. But how about shock packs? Now there's an idea. A pack of cigarettes that gives you an electrical charge every time you open the pack. That should help people quit!
Well done Canada. It's a great shame that all public advice campaigns in Britain tend to be of the 'Janet and John'- (i.e.) patronising variety rather than giving a message which packs a punch.
Smoking is a filthy habit and any ad that makes its impact clear should be welcomed. In Australia they are going to start pointing out that smoking cause impotence!! People must be made fully aware of the consequence of this selfish habit!
Pictures can be ignored, statistics likewise; smokers need active help to conquer a very strong addiction, possibly with subsidised aid for those on low incomes who cannot afford commercial nicotine-replacement products.
Here on Nova Scotia's South Shore smoking appears endemic.
You can go to the local shopping centre and witness smokers standing outside stores, shivering, but puffing away in "minus10 degree" temperatures. If the risk of freezing does not stop the urge to smoke, pictures won't either.
Over the long term, we can expect that people will become anaesthetised to the sight of gory images on cigarette packets. In America, the Surgeon General's warning (all words) was once thought to be shocking, and indeed smoking rates declined. But a generation later, the warning is now an expected design element that is invisible to young would-be smokers. Smoking rates among teenagers are on the rise today, after years of decline.
The lesson is that for the anti-smoking message to get through to the next generation, one must continually turn up the provocation dial. The picture of gory lungs will have to eventually give way to even more horrific imagery sooner or later.
Michael Rowland, USA
I have recently given up smoking. I've been clean for 3 weeks!
I know first hand, as many people do, that to give up smoking, you first really have to want it more than anything else. Shock tactics are no way to get hardened smokers to quit, it makes them more determined to carry on in many cases. Someone mentioned drink-driving shock-tactics. Well there is still a hard core of drinkers, aged 50-65 who cannot be reached by these shock adverts, just like hard core smokers will never be reached by shock tactics. Concentrate instead on preventing young people from becoming smokers in the first place, it's the only way to beat the tobacco companies. After all, when asked the question 'if you could go back in time, would you still have that first fag' to smokers, do they not all say, 'no way'?
Do we ban people who brake their leg skiing from using the NHS. They too are aware of the risks and dangers involved.
Yes, shock ads are acceptable, as it is an effective and fair way of tackling we smokers to live, and kick the habit.
I think that any way of stopping people smoking is good. If this is going to make at least one person give up then it will have been worth it.
Dramatic adverts showing horrific
road accidents as a result of drink driving
have proven themselves as a deterrent.
Why shouldn't a similar attitude be
adopted on this issue?
Surely the primary obligation of the
health regulatory body is to dissuade
people from smoking, not to shield
them from the known truth, for fear
of upsetting their sensibilities.
I think it may act subconsciously as an incentive to stop smoking. If every time you reach for a cigarette you are presented with the effects of smoking a mental association will form. After a while your brain will naturally link the two and when you spark up any cigarette you may well find yourself involuntarily picturing a pair of diseased lungs! It'll make it harder for smokers to experience the pleasure of a cigarette without considering the damage they are doing to themselves.
I believe that shock ads could work if the image was graphic enough to portray serious health risks.
Many people ignore smoking ads and laugh it off but if a diseased heart and lungs were shown it might make the smoker think that they are doing themselves more harm than good.
Smoking is self inflicted killing.
Shock ads are the next obvious step. They have had to be introduced in "Don't drink & drive" campaigns, and as smoking kills and harms many more people each year, they are surely necessary. Both my parents smoke and the effect on their health is obvious. I love them very much and to see them harming themselves so badly really upsets me. I don't know whether the graphic images of diseased lungs will stop them smoking, but I definitely think it's worth a try. More importantly perhaps, it might act as a deterrent to people from starting smoking at all.
It can stop beginners, probably. But for the "professional-smokers"... I am afraid, it will not have a great effect.
Since coming to Canada six months ago I have noticed many Canadians loath smokers. I'm trying to give up myself and if this new scheme helps my I'll be delighted.
OK, so the government makes huge revenue from the taxation of tobacco. Where are they going to get the money from if nobody smokes.Thin Air ??
Smokers know the risks, concentrate on educating the kids and not the adults who probably should know better.
Yes, definitely it will
make an impact on the
smokers and is a good
way to say "Stop smoking
for your own good".
Anything that encourages people to give up this habit can only be good. At present we have the glamorous images portrayed in the movies. The reality needs to be more readily demonstrated.
I am a bit of an anti-smoking fascist, I hate the habit, I hate the damage it does, and I hate the stink of other people's nicotine as I'm going about my business!
If disgusting adverts put people off their revolting, unhealthy habit (a drain on the already overburdened NHS) then personally I am all for it.
With all the information and publicity already available on the damage done by smoking,
the facts are clearly known. People that carry on smoking are unlikely to be
influenced by any rational argument, even in shocking detail, like these Canadian
ads. If governments were really serious about the effects of smoking, they
would either make it illegal, or fund clinics that would help people
to quit. However, we know that many governments
are making too much money from the tax on sales to ever do anything really serious
about the problem.
I think that people who are stupid enough to smoke in this day and age (with all the public awarness of the dangers) are beyond deliverance.
Just as long as they are banned from using the NHS for smoke related ilness then why bother!
20 Jan 00 | Americas
Shock treatment for Canada's smokers
15 Oct 99 | Medical notes
Smoking: The health effects
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