No Fair Says Big Tobacco

FDA using the same messaging tactic as cigarette companies to influence smokers.

In a surreal announcement by lawyers representing the tobacco industry, complainants are crying foul because the FDA is making them post unpleasant pictures of smokers  on cigarette packages they say exaggerate the claim about the ills associated with smoking.

The lawsuit said the images were manipulated to be especially emotional.  The tobacco companies said the corpse photo is actually an actor with a fake scar, while the healthy lungs were sanitized to make the diseased organ look worse.  SOURCE  

In what is a clear case of the pot calling the kettle black, tobacco companies want to deny the federal agency whose goal it is, among other things, to protect consumers against unethical business practices, to cease and desist using methods that exploit the emotions of their consumers.


I suppose cigarette ads like these appealing to women were realistic and not intended to ignore the health issues associated with cigarettes?

How about these older ads before there was a Surgeon General’s warning on the package that promised a sense of relaxation from the tensions of raising children.  What the hell does it mean to “never feel over-smoked”?

And of course every boy looked forward to being seen as a real man with a Marlboro in his hand or hanging from his lips like James Dean.  

You’re not a man until you hack like a cowboy.  Wayne McLaren, the Marlboro man for years in the ad above was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1990 at the young age of 49. He died in 1992. The cancer stricken cowboy spent the rest of his life campaigning against smoking.

These fantasy worlds that were exposed to all of us for years left many people with serious lung diseases or ailments.  I smoked for seventeen years.  I swore off of them after getting tired of waking up each morning coughing up green phlegm.  My mother died of emphysema even though she had quit smoking 15 years before her death.  She walked around with an oxygen tank for the last few years of her life.  My dad died of congestive heart failure that the doctors said was related to his pack and a half a day smoking.

The pictures being mandated by the FDA to appear on cigarette packages may not be the real McCoy but what they suggest is more apt to happen than any of the fantasies alluded too in cigarette ads down the years.

Smoking, when you look at it objectively says I believed the hype the ads promoted.  I really thought I would be more adult and more attractive to others with this thing hanging out of my mouth.  The fact is, I hung on to this phony image so long that now I’m addicted to the nicotine in it and would rather deny it’s potential harm to me than make the difficult effort to quit.

9 responses to “No Fair Says Big Tobacco

  1. How interesting – my boss and I had the same conversation today on our walk. We work in Idaho’s Tobacco Prevention Program, called Project Filter. I’m also skeptical about the effectiveness of the graphics – time will tell. The packages have to include the QuitLine number, so we can sort of gauge if the new graphics are having an effect. Remarkably, though, FDA is all giddy about the vast numbers of tobacco users who will call the QuitLine number, yet, nearly every single state has been underfunded, and in some cases, state legislatures have done away with Tobacco Prevention programs altogether. Gotta shrink government, ya know! CDC announces every year that states aren’t spending adequate money on tobacco prevention to do any good, yet, states can’t get funds. In Idaho, the governor refuses to let any of our health programs go for Federal ACA dollars just because his and the Repubs’ panties are still in a wad over the reform bill’s passage.

    The demon Tobacco Industry gets most of my loathing and disgust. Believe me, people, Big Tobacco has already moved on to its cash cow, snus. They’ve found their replacement customers in teens who can hide the snus in their mouths during school. Their profits, which they claim will drop because of the labels, are expected to continue to rise – this according to Standard & Poors. They will make billions in 2011. The labels won’t stop them.

    Enough of my rant. It will be interesting to see how the court rules on this, and considering that “commercial speech” is so poorly defined by the SCOTUS, us taxpayers will pay for this lawsuit for years to come.

    • Graphics will only help if someone really wants to quit. I credit the FDA for making some attempt to discourage smoking but ultimately it has to be a choice the smoker makes as I did. Taking the glamor out of smoking will help some make that choice in the long run I believe.

  2. I think the tobacco companies need to be dismantled and turned into something that might actually do people some good. I know that is really a Pollyanna thing to say but it is time for their demise.

    • I agree, Donna. Too bad the FDA and Big Tobacco got in bed together during the writing of the new Tobacco Prevention Act.

  3. I used to smoke. I smoked from the time I was 16 to about 23 or so, starting back up sporadically. Now I chew tobacco, Copenhagen. I know it’s not a safe alternative to cigarettes, but it’s better for my lungs. My doctor was happy to hear I had quit the smokes. He’s a little perturbed I chew, but he said he would rather me do that than smoke. Ideally, though, I should be off all of it.

    I don’t have a problem with those images being put on cigarette boxes. I would have no problem with mouth cancer photos being placed on my chew tin either. But I feel that if you have a pulse, then you know, or at least you should know, that smoking is bad for you. It shouldn’t take images to alert you to the reality.

    But maybe for some it’ll be the spur they need to finally quit.

    • I think the ones it may actually help are those who are considering taking up smoking. For those already addicted it will take more than those pictures to stop but at least it gives them incentive.

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