Jeff Ventura, press officer for the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Tobacco Products, said the images include diseased lungs, a man blowing smoke out of a hole in his neck and a dead body complete with a toe tag at the morgue.
“A measure like this really does raise the visibility and awareness for younger smokers and older smokers alike, and for those that haven’t even started smoking yet, that there are serious consequences associated with smoking,” Ventura said.
These warnings are the result of the Tobacco Control Act passed in June 2009. The act allows the FDA to regulate tobacco products nationwide and requires the new health warnings to appear on cigarette packages and in advertising.
The Tobacco Control Act decided on nine specific warnings to be used on cigarette packages, but the images they will be paired with are still undetermined.
Wellness Center program director Natasha Mmeje thinks the warnings are a good idea, but is unsure if they will be effective.
“It’s always important to help people remember what the negative effects of smoking are, but I also think that smokers who smoke on a regular basis already know lots of those negative effects,” she said.
Several students agreed with Mmeje.
“I think it’s a little over the top and unnecessary because people who already smoke are still going to smoke,” said 23-year-old Emily Brown, a senior communications major.
Brown smokes, but doesn’t think the labels will affect her personally because she doesn’t plan on smoking her whole life.
Breane Clinton, a 19-year old sophomore, said the idea of more graphic warning labels doesn’t bother her.
“It probably won’t affect me because I already smoke, but I could see it affecting people who are considering smoking,” she said.
Senior Olivia Weger, a 22-year-old psychology major, said she has been smoking for about three years. “We’ve all seen those pictures before, like in class or online, so I feel like it’s not going to make a difference. It would not affect me personally.”
Kathleen Hannon, a 22-year-old senior international business and marketing major, is co-president of Colleges Against Cancer at Loyola and thinks the new labels will be effective.
“To see the images every time you pull out a pack of cigarettes to start smoking, I think it will be a constant reminder for people,” Hannon said.
The FDA is asking the public to express their opinions about 36 possible images online at www.regulations.gov under “Required Warnings for Cigarette Packages and Advertisements” until Jan. 11, 2011.
“Once that public commentary ends we take all of those comments and begin the process of reviewing them and using experts to figure out which images are going to be most efficacious out of the 36,” Ventura said.
Dietta Chihade, a 21-year-old senior biology major and the other co-president of Students Against Cancer, thinks that the labels will subconsciously affect people who think they already know all of the warnings.
“People will say ‘Oh, I already know this,’ but despite the fact that they ignore it, I think they know subconsciously they should be a little bit more aware of what they are doing to their lungs.”
By By Lauren Keskey