Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Graphic Cigarette Warning Labels

Pictures speak louder than words. Cigarette labels like these from Thailand with a man on a ventillator (left) and another with rotten teeth (right) speak volumes. No one reads cigarette warning labels as they are in the USA. A recent study demonstrated that the warning labels in the US are not as effective as graphic labels used on cigarette packages from overseas.

Of course, adding a few dollars taxation to a pack of cigarettes helps deter the urge to smoke, too.


Picture credit.


SuperStenoGirl said...

The labels in Canada are pretty graphic too. I'm a social smoker, so I buy a pack about once every week and a half or so and yea the labels here are pretty graphic. Depending on the brand. Most of the time I see pictures of very rotten teeth, or bent cigarettes warning me against impotency.

Unfortunately, like obesity labels, cigarette labels never have deterred me. The only thing that makes me stop and think sometimes, is typing heart caths on young people with a history of smoking, or oncology reports on young people with lung cancer.

It does scare me, but then in 2 hours I'm back out there lighting up.

I'm not even sure jacking the price would be bothersome. I remember parents of my friends whining when the price went to $5 a pack, now depending on which brand, you can pay between $6-10 for a pack and yet people still smoke.

Unfortunately, even though the health authority I work for has started a 'quit smoking' program for patients and people who qualify, there's too much money from cigarette sales going back to the government to ever make them form a hard decision about them. If they got rid of them altogether, they'd lose money.

I do think what needs to happen is more education in schools starting at younger and younger ages. Kids are different now even from my generation, they're more in tune with their world at a younger age. We should be teaching them the risks of smoking younger and younger. They started teaching us in about Grade 8. That's way too old, many had already started.

In the end, I don't think anyone will quit unless they really, really want to. If they have a justifiable reason to quit; and to some, their health isn't a justifiable reason to giving up their morning smoke.

But hey, stronger graphics probably couldn't hurt, right?

DrWes said...


Thanks for sharing your perspective here. I agree w/you, the graphics couldn't hurt. But here's something I ask my patients: name one thing that cigarettes do that is good for you (besides, perhaps, provide social acceptance with peers). I have even put $20 on the table that they can keep, if they can provide a realistic answer. (I still have my $20.)

But I agree w/you - a 15-30 minute follow-up appt will not change people's REAL behaviour. But we just have to keep trying...

SuperStenoGirl said...

Dr. Wes,
I agree. A 15-30 minute follow-up won't change a lot of people's minds. More than likely they've heard the same speech more than once already and I'm pretty sure that when someone starts in again, their eyes glaze over and they start thinking of something else while the speaker drones on. I know I do that normally when someone bothers me about my weight (I lost another 5 lbs since the new year, I think).

The thing is, you can't just quit a habit. If you just try to quit, either cold turkey or with help, the chances of you falling back into the habit are fairly good. You need to replace the bad habit with something good. Someone told me that doing something every day for 21 days will make it a new habit, and while I stopped for various reasons I found it to be true with exercise.

As for one good thing smoking does for me? I admit, there isn't one good physical thing that smoking does for anyone. I used to think it de-stressed me but I've since learned that's not true; that it doesn't help with relaxing the body at all - you'll probably have a better explanation than I do! :) What it does for me though is keep me sane. It gives me something to do on my breaks rather than twiddle my thumbs. For me to kick the habit, I need to replace it - but I haven't found anything that I can do for 15 minutes that seems to be as comfortable as smoking. I even tried bringing my lil PSP to work and watching a movie; I usually end up going out for a smoke instead.

Keep talking to people though, even if 99% of the time it doesn't work, there might be that 1% that it does. In my opinion, changing just 1 person is better than not trying at all.

Oh yea, I also have to ask you (because I'm terrified of asking the Cardiologists here): Star Close. I know what it is, four clicks and all that, femoral artery, achieves hemostasis - my question is, does it STAY in there indefinitely or do you take it out?

And, why do you do a heart cath through the leg? I understand about checking the renal arteries but isn't that a long way to go to get to the heart? And this I'm probably misinterpreting altogether. :)


Dr. K said...

Perhaps one of the more effective ways of getting people to quit (or at the very least cut down drastically) is the ban that is sweeping across the globe: no smoking in any public buildings.

Of course in my experience this means walking through a cloud of smoke to get into any restaurant or shop ... and even outside of my hospital, where people stand and smoke under "no smoking in this area" signs.

Okay, maybe I need to think about this further. Hmm. Peraps a ban in any public place, period? That way people may only smoke in their own homes/cars/whatever.

It's already being done: we are booked into a fancy schmancy hotel for a May holiday and the entire grounds of the hotel are smoke-free. With a hefty "cleaning" fee tacked onto your bill if you are found smoking on hotel property. Now if that isn't a step in the right direction ...

DrWes said...

Wow! What a change of subject - but what the hay...
StarClose is just another arterial closure device developed by Abbott that uses a nitinol (wire) clip that closes the vessel - Yes, it stays in there. More info is available at Abbott Vascular's website.

Regarding cardiac catheterization, we use the femoral vein primarily because it is a large diameter vessel and easily accessible and compressible. Angiography can be performed from different vessels (like the arm's brachial or radial arteries) but their size makes it more challenging to perform. Also, most closure devices work best on larger vessels and the use of one of these usually permits ambulation after only 2 hours. You can find more info over at Wikipedia.

Dr. K -

In a way, bans might be a deterrent to some, but most of the addicted smokers I know find them more of an inconvenience to smoke just before and just after entering these "banned" areas, but they continue to smoke (just look at SSG who smokes "socially" - (sorry, SSG!)). Will a ban stop her? Unlikely. In response to these bans, now smokers can spread Nicogel on their hands to get a 4-hr fix while their in these "banned" locations.

I still feel the best deterent lies in peoples' own heads - they have to WANT to quit... REALLY.

SuperStenoGirl said...

Thanks Dr. Wes! I've been searching all over the net to find that info out, for no reason other than I was curious :)

As for smoking bans? I live in British Columbia, smoking is banned EVERYWHERE; bars, restaurants, hospitals, cafes, pubs, strip joints, every public place even the platforms at the Skytrain station.

It's an inconvenience but then again I, personal opinion here, don't like having smoke blown in my own face and I make a point not to smoke around anyone else. This includes moving farther away from people at the bus stop and not exhaling when kids/babies go by. I know a lot of older people are irritated at the ban on smoking but you know what? I like it. It means that when I do go to a bar (which is few and far between; can't stand the meat market) I dont have to hack and cough as I enjoy my drink. It means that I can have a meal in a nice restaurant without someone's ashes getting in my food.

I guess it's odd to say I don't like smoke being blown in my face while I still smoke. But I also only smoke twice at work (one cigarette each) and twice going to and from work (one each way so a total of 4 a day, and sometimes less depending on my mood). I find it incredibly rude to be behind someone in the line for the bus while they're smoking and strangely enough, the smoke actually makes me queasy only when that's happening, not when I'm the one smoking. I know, I'm weird but then I can't breathe if I have socks on.lol (And no apologies. I know I'll eventually quit. Probably.)

A total ban on smoking will only cause more scenarios like during the Prohibition; where people were bootlegging alcohol and going to Speak Easy's to get their drinks. Only now we'll have smuggling cigarettes and "Air Dens" (I'm not feeling creative right now, sorry for the bad label lol) instead. Plus there's the old "human rights" people that are out there now which weren't (or not as many) around during the Prohibition. As odd as it sounds, smoking is seen by many people as a human right, healthy or otherwise.

As for the cars, as I mentioned in my blog Ontario is already trying to enforce a law which prohibits smoking in a car that's carrying children which I think is a HUGE, HUGE step in the right direction. There is nothing I hate more than seeing a kid stuck in the back seat while their parents smoke with the windows rolled up. Talk about a double whammy!

While I think our generation is lost, for the most part, about this no smoking thing I don't think it's too late for young children now and children to come. More education at an earlier age with graphic (though not tooooo graphic) examples of the dangers. All we saw in Grade 8 was slices of cancerous lungs which, while gross, weren't shocking enough to make many of the then smokers to seriously think about themselves. Plus there's the whole teenage invincibility mentality - "It'll never happen to me". (My sister's friend who is 17 has lung cancer, he's a chain smoker and has been since about age 8, whether that caused the cancer I don't know but it certainly didn't help).

More options should be available to people who really, truely want to quit. Not those fed up with the rising prices but those who really want to kick the habit. I don't feel that right now there's a lot of public resources for smokers who want to stop. We're getting more here in B.C but it's still not enough.

And, sorry about the brief change of subject; I tried looking for your e-mail last week but you don't have one listed on your blog. :)