The recent decision by a U.S. federal judge to hear arguments by the tobacco industry against putting graphic warning labels on cigarette packages in 2012 refuses to recognize the public health benefits the visual imaging has had on other countries. That’s the observation of Dr. Jim Thrasher of the USC Arnold School of Public Health, who is leading a number of research projects around the globe studying the impact of warning labels on cigarette packaging.
Canada first used the graphic images on cigarette packs in 2000. Brazil followed Canada’s lead in 2001.
Thrasher and his research team has worked with governmental and research institutions in several countries– including China, India, Germany, and the U.S. The work involved assessing adult smokers’ and adolescents’ responses to various kinds of warning on cigarette packaging. Thrasher says the graphic labels are most effective in curtailing cigarette use. Thrasher points out that tobacco use continue to be the leading cause of preventable death in the United States.
He said, of the many graphic images used in various countries, one distinct image seems to evoke the most intense responses: a diseased mouth.
According to Thrasher, nine new pictorial warnings were scheduled to go into effect in September 2012, but their introduction may be delayed if tobacco industry litigation is allowed to advance. Thrasher says graphic warning labels will not be the panacea that can get all smokers to kick the habit, but it has proven that it can be an effective tool in getting people to serious assess how smoking could adversely affect their future health.
Thrasher said he is confident that once legal, government, and health officials take a serious look at how smoking pushes up healthcare costs and the deadly consequences it continues to have on millions of lives, they will make the right decision.
AUDIO: Thrasher is confident that graphic images will eventually appear on cigarette packs in the U.S.