Monday, December 23, 2019

Random Thoughts on Tobacco Labels and the Sugar Tax

I'm not quite sure how effective including gory graphic warnings of the various unsavory outcomes of smoking on cigarette packets is. People who smoke, I would assume, are already aware of the countless health issues associated with smoking and thus would have, at some point of time, made the conscious decision to continue smoking. Thus, including the graphic reminder would add very little to challenge their decision if they had previously found the trade-off between their health and smoking to be, if not acceptable, at least tolerable.

Of course, it may be argued that the warnings, while ineffective on the hardened smoker, could yet serve to discourage budding smokers or smokers-to-be. However, I would imagine that social pressure is one of the reasons for picking up smoking, and if so, the health warnings would do little to overcome this cause. If anything, knowing about the risk-taking behavior of young punks, the gory graphic warnings would paradoxically enhance the emasculating image of smoking.

I've said it as a joke, but possibly the graphic warnings could be replaced with alternative imagery, preferably something deeply embarrassing that nobody would want to be seen with. My first thought was something pink and frilly, but that might boost sales in the wrong demographics. A safer bet would be pictures of old wrinkly ladies or dung beetles.

I could be entirely wrong, and graphic warnings could be extremely effective. In that case, I suppose we could adopt the same tactics on the war on diabetes. Instead of a sugar tax, we simply stick pictures of diabetics on every pack of sugary drink or snack. This would surely be more effective than a "Healthier Choice" logo!