Friday, November 12, 2010
Robin Brown’s piece “Spinning the War” was pretty spot on in terms of illustrating media importance in shaping political decisions and outcomes, with the specific example of how the war on terror became what it is today. I’m personally interested in health communications and I think that in some way, the new cigarette health warnings can fit into Brown’s general argument. The FDA has recently required cigarette manufacturers to use more graphic images as part of the mandatory health advisories on cigarette cartons. Some of these images include shriveled babies and a man smoking with a hole in his throat. The decision obviously has some implications for cigarette advertising, but whether or not the new images, meant to shock potential buyers, will have an effect on sales remains to be seen. Graphic warning images are new in the United States, but not elsewhere in the world, and haven’t seemed to faze already habitual smokers. I do however think the FDA’s ruling is a step in the right direction in combating smoking in the United States. The cigarette industry has the money to be a strong government lobbiest and these new labels are at the least a strong showing in the attempt to balance their might. I also think the media is in part responsible for the passing of these new requirements. Anti smoking campaigns, especially the TRUTH campaign, have been given more attention and more air time in the past decade and cigarette ads have been given some restrictions as to where they can be published. Media may not have been the driving factor in the passing of the more graphic images, but it will be important in how the images are received and the extent their impact will have actually deterring people from consuming cigarettes. And for the proponents of even more strict cigarette regulation in the future, this is where I think media spin and politics, especially the politics of cigarette money will come into play. It’s not happening in the main stream right now, but maybe after a while of looking at shriveled babies, the war against smoking is in the cards.