Scare Tactics A Viable Way To Cut Down On Cigarettes Use

Some of the images are frightening, but so are the effects of cigarette smoking cigarettes on people's health.

For the first time in more than 25 years, the government is taking a new, more aggressive tack in its campaign to get smokers to stop and keep people who don't smoke cigarettes from starting.

The Department of Health and Human Services has selected nine photographs that it will require cigarette manufacturers to put on cigarette packs beginning next year. Among them are images of a mouth with discolored teeth and an ulcer on the lip, damaged lung tissue and a man smoking cigarettes through a tracheotomy.

The reaction was predictable: Health advocates applauded the move, and cigarette makers threatened legal action.

There's action abroad, too.

Australia, which already has banned the public display of cigarettes store products in retail outlets, introduced legislation that would force discount cigarette online products to be sold in plain dark-olive packaging, carrying health warnings instead of company logos. Cigarette brand names would appear on the packages in the same size and style of printing. The legislation, if passed by Parliament, would be effective in 2012.

Philip Morris International has said it began legal action against the Australian government over the nation's plans, predicting that alcohol would be the next target by what it called the nanny state. About 17 percent of Australian adults smoke, compared with about 20 percent of Americans.

"This is a world-first initiative designed to remove the last vestige of glamor from cigarettes products," Health Minister Nicola Roxon told Parliament while introducing the bill. "Once enacted, these plain-packaging laws will be the world's toughest laws on cheap cigarettes promotion."

Australia is tough in other ways. A pack of smokes there costs a whopping $16.70.

Higher taxes on online cigarettes in this country might help someone to quit or not start.

In the United States, Pennsylvania's tax of $1.60 is a pittance compared with Connecticut's $3.40, Rhode Island's $3.46 or New York's $4.35 a pack, the highest in the nation. With some states charging just pennies per pack in taxes, the United States average is just $1.46.

Will any of these developments make a difference and convince some to break a bad habit and others not to get hooked?

Although we believe in general that adults are able to make their own decisions, the decision to smoke cigarettes long has been more than a personal one. cigarettes-related illnesses cost the nation nearly $100 billion a year in health-related expenses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

And although some, including the cigarettes online industry, are crying foul, we believe the government is taking a necessary step to get more people to quit. That 20 percent of Americans that still smokes is too great, and although the percentage is significantly less than the 42 percent of Americans who smoked in 1965, we can do better.

We suspect that people who are so severely addicted to buy cigarettes and those who simply wish to smoke cigarettes won't be affected by the graphic images on their pack of cigarettes.

But if even one teenager sees the images and says "Not for me," or if one long-term smoker decides to quit because she doesn't want to take a drag through a hole in her throat, then the effort will have been worthwhile.


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