Friday, November 12, 2010

Spinning Cigarettes

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.

1 comment:

  1. The concept of graphic images on cigarettes is an interesting connection to Brown's piece. Though I suppose if you put a picture of a dead teen on a bottle of beer people might be less prone to by it. Though one has to wonder were and when the shock factor no longer cause shock. Especially, in the case of smokers. Many of them already know what will happen to them, even fines for being 50 feet with in a building has not curtailed many of my smoking friends in Hawaii. Initially yes, the thought of being fined scared a lot of people, made them rethink their habits but with time and the actual application of the law, the "shock" wore away.

    I think for smokers it may be the same, they will simply turn the box back to the label only side and disregard the visual just as they disregard the ever enlarging Generals warning. Though maybe for some youth or new smokers, it won't look so appealing having a shriveled baby on their cigarette box.

    I know for the "not even once" anti-meth campaigns in Hawaii, graphic images have made more people seek help then ever before and maybe it'll have the same affect for smokers.