In a “who has the creepiest cigarette warning labels in the world” competition, the USA would score a lame last position, if we compare its proposed labels with cigarette labels from Brazil, for example.
It was about time for the USA to have such legislation, especially because the effect of grotesque images on cigarette packages was documented by INCA, the body of the Ministry of Health of Brazil that has coordinated the National Tobacco Control Program since 1989. The program is funded by the Brazilian government, and the statistics show that this was money well spent. Brazil was inspired by Canada, the first country in the world to adopt mandatory warning images on cigarette packages. Since 2002, some of the images below have “graced” cigarette packages in Brazil, and the effect was more than anyone expected. Since INCA coordinates Brazil’s anti-smoking efforts, the smoking prevalence among population over 18 years old dropped from 34,8% in 1989 to 22.4% in 2003, a decrease of approximately 35%.
But this was not enough. The country banned all cigarette ads, TV and radio commercials, and in 2008 a new batch of images, aimed at the younger consumers, was introduced. They are far more terrifying than the previous graphic labels:
Canada has 16 such labels in current use, each supported with medical facts that emphasize the need for proper legislation. Another country using graphic warnings to deter from smoking is Australia, since March 1, 2006.
The US FDA has recently issued a proposed rule, Required Warnings for Cigarette Packages and Advertisements, proposing to modify the required warnings that appear on cigarette packages and in cigarette advertisements. If creepy anti-smoking ads were not enough, beginning 2012 all cigarette packages in the US will feature even more creepy tobacco warnings, yet maybe… just maybe, not creepy enough.