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Are The Anti-Smoking Ads Too Graphic For Children?

By Danielle Sullivan |

anti smoking, smoking hazards, FDA anti smoking campaign, FDA anti smoking ads, second hand smoking, smoking ban, quality of life lawsThe Food and Drug Administration approved nine new labels today to be added to cigarette packages that include some disturbing images. Some of the ads display autopsy scars and rotting teeth accompanied by statements such as, “Smoking can kill you” and “Cigarettes cause strokes and heart disease.”

Some say that these images are entirely too graphic, might scare kids, and make people feel uncomfortable, but isn’t that the point?

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says the imagery works, “These labels are frank, honest and powerful depictions of the health risks of smoking, and they will help. These labels will encourage smokers to quit  and prevent children from smoking.”

The ads are set to be placed on the top half of cigarette packages so the chances that kids will see them is not as great, unless a family member smokes. In that case, they may very well scare the child and cause them to worry about the person who does smoke. Yet on the positive side, it may also help that child remember how smoking can be harmful so they never learn to smoke themselves when they get older.

Check out all nine ads for yourself and let us know if you think they are too graphic, or if they are just reflect the physical truth of what can happen to a body when you smoke.

Images: FDA

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Are The Anti-Smoking Ads Too Graphic For Children?

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About Danielle Sullivan

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Danielle Sullivan

Danielle Sullivan writes for Babble Pets. She is also an award-winning parenting writer, who authors a monthly column for NY Parenting and ASPCA Parents blog. You can read more of her work at her blog,Some Puppy To Love. Read bio and latest posts → Read Danielle's latest posts →

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21 thoughts on “Are The Anti-Smoking Ads Too Graphic For Children?

  1. Meagan says:

    Hmm… my thought is that teens would get an extra kick out of smoking a pack of cigarettes with one of these warnings.

  2. goddess says:

    Can’t wait to see the episiotomy incisions on condom packs!

  3. Kim Q says:

    Wow. Packs in Europe have similar huge warnings, but without the pictures. Personally, I do not think they will do much to sway smokers from smoking. Nowadays I do not think anyone questions the fact that smoking is bad. It is more that the smokers do not care, or they care and cannot seem to get past the addiction. Either way, I do not think the warnings will be effective.

  4. Kate says:

    In Canada, we’ve had those type of warnings for years. My favourite is the cigarette with a long ash, curling down to the side with the warning “smoking causes impotence”. Classic. Anyways, it’s all a scare tactic.. I think it’s supposed to frighten kids and adults alike. Here in my province, they can’t even display cigarettes in stores, or advertise them, so unless you’re seeking them out or know someone who smokes, you’d never even see a pack.

  5. bwsf says:

    I don’t foresee my son being anywhere near them, so that’s not a big concern for me. And I also kind of think the whole *point* is to scare young would-be smokers away, yes?

  6. Brandy says:

    I just lit one up, after scrolling through the pictures. I have known people with lung cancer, my mom is a radiation therapist. She *treats* cancer patients. I admit, I started smoking just to tick her off. But since that fateful day 17 years ago, I have had quite a few chest x rays (I’ve had techs and docs tell me they’d never know I smoke had they not smelled it on me or seen them in my bag) and I gave birth to a 7 pound 12 ounce boy who was a whopping 9 days early. He has been sick a total of 6 times in the 27 months he has graced this earth, and I’m even counting a reaction to vaccinations. Am I lucky? YOU BET. Do I want to quit? Someday, but not right now. To be honest, I use these “cancer sticks” as a break. I use them to unwind and also as a timer or a Mommy Time Out. I don’t smoke nearly as much as I used to, which I know is no excuse, but for now, it works for me.

  7. Maggie says:

    Compared to what the kids in elementary school can watch on made-for-TV movies these aren’t too graphic. My 15-yr-old grandson would particularly like the comparison of healthy lungs and the other kind. They might be effective at preventing smoking for some kids, they might become a badge of ‘bad-ass-ed-ness’ for others.

    One of them, though, looks altogether too fake. What’s up with the betadine around the so-called autopsy incision? Why is the corpse in the pink of apparent health? Couldn’t find a real post-autopsy corpse to photograph?

  8. Heather says:

    I went to school in the “dare to say no to drugs” era and they brought in actual human lungs to scare kids away from smoking. I know they gave us more information than that, but more than twenty years later, I still comment to my husband when we see smokers, “didn’t they see those lungs in school?!” Scaring kids straight can work. I know it did for me. After seeing what poor choices does to your body, not only was I never tempted to smoke (or abuse drugs or alcohol, by the way) but neither could I understand how anyone with the same amount of information could possibly choose differently. I think putting these pictures on packages of cigarettes might not deter active smokers, but it should definitely deter kids from picking up the habit.

  9. Lily says:

    Yea, smoking is bad. So are drugs, alcohol, and guns. People still use them. And if you’re gonna put those huge disgusting pictures on cigarette packs, you might as well put the pictures of a person who drank themselves into a coma, dead livers, or the surgical scars of liver transplants on the alcohol bottles. Dont you know sunshine causes skin cancer, cartoons cause seizures, video games and sodas give us diabetes, and Mc Donalds is out to clog our arteries? There are worse things to worry about than cigarettes.

  10. Brandon says:

    I agree with the comments on here that the images really won’t do too much. We can preach it, we can show the images, but until someone goes through the horrible reality themselves or with someone close to them, I just do not see it helping much. For those on here who smoke, but want to get away from cigarettes, look into electronic cigarettes. Many benefits to e-cigs, such as: over 10yrs of study and no carcinogens found, huge cost savings, environmentally friendly, etc. The brand I support and no I’m not a rep, salesman, etc for them, is Totally Wicked, because of good prices and high quality products. I have been using electronic cigarettes for over two years and used four different brands. Don’t take my word for it, check it out for yourself. Oh yeah, kids can’t steal electronic cigarettes from the store or our of their parents’ pockets. Not to mention, it takes a credit card to buy them online. In short, very difficult for them to get ahold of.

    @Lily, please explain your comment “video games and sodas give us diabetes”. As a “gamer” of 15+ years, I have never encountered a case of the diabetes. I find that specific claim to be a bit “over the top” unless you can back it with a resource that provides factual evidence.

    @Kate, I wish the US would do what your providence does, by not allowing stores to advertise or display cigarettes.

  11. minus says:

    I’m a smoker and I will admit that these images do bother me, but have I quit smoking? Nope… I eventually will, but I still light up. And if these warnings were on packs when I first started smoking it wouldn’t have deterred me, it wasn’t cigarettes that got me started smoking, it was the whole “I want to look cool around my friends who all smoke”. Yes I know STUPID reasoning but I was 15 years old and I liked a boy, who had a pack of cigarettes and asked if I wanted one. you do stupid things as a kid regardless of warnings. I’m hoping I will raise my children to be leaders instead of followers and to be able to think for themselves and not try to look “cool” for other people.

  12. minus says:

    Oh and one other point. Diabetes and obesity is rampant here in the US… are they going to put pictures of amputated legs on packages of candies and sweets? I don’t think so…

  13. minus says:

    And on my first comment… that boy with the pack of cigarettes ended up becoming my husband 7 months ago and he doesn’t smoke! so it was still stupid reasoning, but at least I ended up with him if that’s anything.

  14. isabel marani says:

    Great article and thanks for sharing those images! Smokers will quit when they are ready like I did after 15years but if these images will deter any NEW smokers I’m all for it!

  15. randa says:

    If these images were on TV they’d probably be deemed unsuitable for kids under 16. But since it’s for a good cause it can be looked past? This world is too full of you can’t do this unless it’s this way but not that way. Kids are shown stuff like this in school. I saw many pictures of blackened lungs and throat cancer before I was out of the 5th grade, I smoke. It’s not going to do anything. Smoking has too many factors for a gruesome picture to stop it. Plus, as someone mentioned most kids would laugh and joke about it.

  16. Court says:

    Not graphic enough. As the daughter of two parents now suffering from severe health problems DIRECTLY linked to smoking, I don’t think you could be too graphic. They are missing out on a lot of their granddaughter’s life due to the fact that they are too ill to see her most of the time. It hurts them deeply to know that something so stupid and needless as smoking is now limiting their ability to live life. I say make the ads more graphic.

  17. AlbertaMom says:

    Here in Canada we just approved these images as well as one more of a Edmonton woman who lost her life to cancer from smoking. The US has banned this image of her on her death bed

    http://www.inews880.com/Channels/Reg/LocalNews/story.aspx?ID=1446749

  18. ChiLaura says:

    These ads make me want to light up out of spite. It’s bullshit that a company be required to scare you out of buying their product. I can only hope that next, my box of Cheez-Its will show pictures of unattractive fatties and cellulite-ridden thighs.

    Teaching that smoking is bad is the parents’ job. Since they don’t do it, the school picks up the slack. Forcing a company to do it is anti-American.

  19. AshleyRose says:

    Why does it have to be black and white? Because we make a statement on addictive cigarettes (which, in our country, is illegal for kids under 18), we have to then put scary graphics on everything our country overuses and abuses? That means video games, computers, basically any technology, food in general, etc., etc. Our society apparently doesn’t have an off-switch, both in overuse and consumption, and also in trying to put a stop to it? Why does it have to be all or nothing?

    I’m all for it. Like the comments above, it’ll impact some, and it won’t impact others. You aren’t going to do anything everyone is going to agree with.

  20. Marvin Evans says:

    You’re right, no “self-respecting” US company should be forced to worn the public about the dangers of their products-because they shouldn’t be allowed to sell them in the FIRST place. Many dangerous products-including products known to cause death, cancer, and disability (when used as directed) have been banned for years!

  21. nonsmoker says:

    I say post the pics they might get someone to quit

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