November 19, 2018

By JAZLYN SLACK

The government thinks that graphic images thrown in people’s faces will stop the 18 per cent of Canadians who have been or still are addicted to the “cancer stick.” What they don’t realize is that it takes more than just a scary picture to “kick the stick.”

There are many things that smokers have to deal with while trying to quit their habit. Seeing the horrifying truth in front of them may be one, but those pictures alone are not going to make a 25-year smoker quit.

Health Canada unveiled the 16 new anti-smoking labels Sept. 27. The graphic images, according to The Canadian Press, include a cancer infected mouth and a deathbed photograph of former Canadian model, Barb Tarbox, who became an anti-smoking activist before her death from lung cancer at age 42. The images will be printed over 75 per cent of the cigarette package. The hope is it will act as a deterrent, but it won’t be successful.

In the U.S., a new series of images were put on cigarette packages in 2010.

In an article posted on ABC News, Timothy Edgar, associate professor and graduate program director of health communications at Emerson College in Boston, Mass., said, “Most already know that smoking is dangerous, the point of these pictures is the shock value. On its own it rarely works.”

Edgar said “while the campaign may dissuade some smokers at the start, the communication tactic may not spur many to kick the habit for good, if at all.”
Canada spends billions of dollars in hospital, physician and drug costs for the 45,000 Canadians who die each year from tobacco use.

There are ways to avoid the images. In the U.S. smokers are buying covers for their cigarette packs.

Smoking is only one of many issues that lead to death. You don’t see the effects of obesity posted in fast food restaurants, nor the effects of skin cancer posted in tanning salons. And you don’t see the effects of alcohol poisoning on your case of beer or bottle of liquor.

You can keep creating images, or you can develop a way to help smokers quit. Support groups, counselling and nicotine replacement therapy are only a few of many methods, according to the Canadian Lung Association.

People have seen the warnings and they know the consequences. Instead of rubbing their faces in it, we should be encouraging them through support and methods. They may be addicted to the “cancer stick” but if money was spent wisely, we could change that.

The views herein represent the position of the newspaper, not necessarily the author.

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