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My lucky strike for your lucky stroke

by The Concordian October 11, 2011

“Smoke, smoke, smoke that cigarette! Puff, puff, puff until you smoke yourself to death,” sang Tex Williams in 1947.
Once associated with a sense of freedom and glamour, cigarette consumption has been demystified over the past few years, starting in the 1960s with the introduction of anti-smoking advertisement campaigns. The aim of these advertisements is to change people’s relationship with cigarettes by attempting to raise awareness about the critical health problems stemming from tobacco consumption.
Thus, after having spent six years and 3.6 million dollars on consultations about refreshing obsolete package labels, Health Canada recently decided to hit hard. They have introduced 16 new rotated messages on cigarettes packages, to which tobacco manufacturers have until March 21, 2012 to conform with.
In terms of size, “the bigger the better” says the Canadian Cancer Society. Size does matter and graphics will now take 75 per cent of the package’s space –as opposed to the current 50 per cent.
Images tend to have a stronger impact on people than words because they carry a deeper emotional dimension. Therefore the gory graphics, a cancer-stricken woman and diseased body parts, are designed to shock people and make them consider the consequences of smoking.
A lot of the already existing labels play on moralistic themes. These have been very effective in portraying the cigarette as a threat to traditional values, including self-control and personal responsibility.
Canada has been a pioneer when it comes to cigarette warning labels. It was the first country to adopt graphic tobacco product labelling requirements, under the recently amended Tobacco Products Information Regulations, in 2000.
According to Health Canada, these labels are meant to be “noticeable, informative and credible,” and it is undeniable that they have been successful as such. The 2010 Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey reveals that the smoking rate in the country has dropped from 25 per cent in 1999 to 17 per cent in 2010.
The psychological effect of such initiatives is quasi undeniable. Past cigarette advertisements would lose complete credibility in this day and age, such as the 1951 Lucky Strike advert on NBC (“Lucky Strike, the cigarette that tastes better, cleaner, fresher, smoother.”)
Progress has therefore been made with respect to changing mentalities and behaviours towards smoking. Overall, it seems that visual health warnings have been effective in reducing the attractiveness of cigarette packages and tobacco consumption in the short run by raising awareness among the population about the dangers of smoking. Canada has proven to be extremely efficient in tackling the issue, as statistics show. Let’s see how tobacco manufacturers conform to the new law by March 21, and hope that the warnings continue to deter people from smoking.

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