Cigarettes: how ugly can they get?

It’s official; rotten yellowed teeth, chunks of bloody brain and blackened lungs are now commonplace images one can find on display in depanneurs, 7-11’s and convenience stores across the country.

On December 23, Health Canada formally launched it’s newest anti-smoking campaign which requires tobacco companies to display one of 16 gruesome images on its cigarette packages. The images are an attempt to avert Canada’s smokers to the health risks they face when they smoke and the effects that smoking has on a variety of common body parts which combine to form the human frame.

Heralded by anti-smoking crusaders as a breakthrough in the fight against smoking one has to wonder if the full effects of this move have been adequately studied. One wonders how smokers are going to feel having to walk around with various parts of degenerate human anatomy lining the insides of their pockets.

Some may feel that it is unfair to force them to bear a badge of grotesque in their breast pockets and slap a pack of battered lungs down on their kitchen tables every evening.

Smoking is indeed a national problem and the costs of caring for those who suffer from the effects thereof do indeed have an impact upon how tax money is spent. In an interview with Saturday Night Magazine, Merv Ungurain, Director of the Tobacco Control Unit for the Department of Health in Halifax said: “Each smoker in Nova Scotia costs us about $500,000.” He further contends that the anti-smoking programs in British Columbia cost citizens about $1.60 per capita versus $0.80 per capita in Nova Scotia.

Whatever happened to enforcing that cigarettes aren’t sold to minors, advertising on television or putting informative flyers in people’s mail boxes? Are these forms of advertising ineffective despite the fact that entire business empires have been built on the premise that this kind of advertising can indeed reach out to people and is worthwhile?

What do disgusting labels on cigarette packages mean for Canadians. While it makes sense to limit advertising on cigarette packages does it make sense to infringe upon the lives of current smoker’s by adding ugliness to their daily dose of nicotine. What’s next, photos of fatty tissue on May West packages, images of bursting arteries on chip bags and pictures of shriveled livers on the labels of every bottle of beer and spirits that touch Canadian lips? Could any commercial product potentially become a billboard for Health Canada?

According to the American Cancer Society, when smokers quit, the benefits over time include the following:

20 minutes after quitting blood pressure drops to a level close to that of before the last cigarette. Temperature of the hands and feet return to normal.

24 hours after quitting chances of heart attacks decrease.

2 weeks- 3 months after quitting circulation improves and lung function increases up to 30%.

1-9 months after quitting coughing, sinus congestion, fatigue and shortness of breath decrease; cilia regain normal function in the lungs.

1 year after quitting excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker’s.

5 years after quitting stroke risk is reduced to that of a non-smoker.

10 years after quitting the risk of dying from lung cancer decreases by half.

15 years after smoking the risk of coronary disease is that of a nonsmoker’s


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