November 11, 2010
Yesterday the Food and Drug Administration proposed new, bigger, colorized, and illustrated cigarette warning labels. The theory behind the labels, required by the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, is that people already know that smoking is bad for them, but they need to be reminded good and hard. The FDA is suggesting a few possible illustrations for each of nine rotating warnings. Below are a few of my favorites.
By contrast, comic-book-style warnings like the one showing a premature infant in an incubator have an air of unreality that undermines the FDA's point, as do the secondhand smoke warnings that show smokers breathing directly into the faces of babies and old ladies. The illustrations showing what you can do when you quit smoking (blow bubbles, wear a T-shirt bragging about your feat, clog your toilet with cigarettes) can be charitably described as uninspired. And I am not buying the second strokes-and-heart-disease guy. Is he having a heart attack or a stroke? The hand to his head suggests a stroke, while the hand to his chest suggests a heart attack (although it's on the wrong side of his chest). Maybe he's having both—or it could be indigestion combined with a migraine. He's got to go.