In Opposition to Warning Graphics on Cigarettes

One of the proposed warning graphics.

Sean R, Staff Writer

I have a lot of reasons to hate smoking. It’s a disgusting habit, and it does horrible things to people. My grandfather died of lung cancer, caused by years of cigarette smoking, and my uncle is going down the same path. I think people should know what smoking does to you.

But I cannot bring myself to advocate explicit labels about the dangers of smoking, like “Tobacco can harm your children,” or “Smoking can kill you,” complete with bona fide graphics of pain, suffering, and misery, of dead bodies lying under sheets in the morgue and a mother blowing smoke in her nursing baby’s face. However logical or well-meaning the advocates of these explicit labels are, they fail to realize that they would not be solving the problem of smoking; rather, they would be inciting fear, a slippery and uncontrollable element, and distracting from what is actually bad about smoking.

There is a scene in the movie Clerks when a man accosts cigarette buyers with smoker’s lungs and trachea rings, and leads a mob to assault the cashier as a “Merchant of Cancer,” which is exactly the sort of extreme behavior you could expect if these labels become a reality. In addition, putting pictures of dead bodies and diseased lungs on a cigarette box will make anti-smoking seem like a caricature, as the repeat images of smoking’s casualties desensitizes us against its realities.

I want people to stop smoking, but it has to be done rationally. People, students in particular, must be warned. But these new labels are not warnings, they’re a sick, tasteless joke.