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Graphic Cigarette Packet Warnings Deemed Unconstitutional

Posted by on March 21, 2012

Smoking is bad for you. We all know it. There is no illusion that prevents smokers from understanding the very real consequences of their actions. I speak from a smoker’s perspective. Many people remind me daily that smoking is bad for you — as if I need a reminder. So, I was interested to learn that graphic cigarette packet warnings were recently deemed unconstitutional.

Recently, legislation was turned down by a federal judge forcing US tobacco companies to put graphic images of death and suffering on packaging. These images are even more graphic that the text labels I’ve seen on packages in Europe (Smoking Kills) or the graphic proposed in the fictional movie, Thank Your For Smoking. This judge felt that it was to evoke an emotional response rather than increasing consumer awareness. It’s a scare tactic rather than a constructive effort to educate and inform.

Tobacco companies are increasing their focus on brand loyalty through design on their packaging. Something like an image of a man on a respirator on their package would affect those efforts. But the argument is not how the government regulates the popularity of cigarettes but whether it is unconstitutional to tell someone to stop smoking through methods designed to scare you. There are other ways to discourage smoking as a habit through advertising and consumer education as well as increasing taxes on cigarettes.

In my own experience, increased taxes and the cost factor have decreased my smoking habit. I’€™m not sure how I would feel about trying to indulge with graphic cigarette packet warnings, but I would feel violated as a consumer. We’€™ll have to see how the appeal turns out.

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