PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — In the United States, anti-smoking public service announcements can be pretty graphic. But the warning labels on the actual products are rather vanilla.
“It’s just like a little square label,” said one woman. “It’s less than a fourth of the total box.”
The U.S. is the exception.
Around the globe, warning labels on cigarette packs are often downright disgusting. Damaged lungs, brown, rotting teeth, even dead bodies. Mandated and used as warning labels in 120 different countries.
“Some of them do get pretty darn graphic,” said Jazymne Sutton, a doctoral candidate at Penn’s Annenberg School of Communications and the lead author of a new study which looks at the effectiveness of these visual warnings.
“That really evokes a lot of emotion in someone and it really makes you pay more attention to that black label on the package and some of them take up to 70 percent of the pack,” Sutton said.
Her research found these types of ads are more effective at getting smokers to quit.
But even though in 2009 Congress instructed the FDA to require picture warnings on U.S. cigarette packs, tobacco companies have butt together and smoked out the change, delaying them for years in court cases.
“The counter-argument for not implementing the labels would be individuals are emotional people,” said Sutton. “You probably wouldn’t want a large chunk of your product branding to go to this label.”
But the push is lighting back up.
A September court order was issued forcing the FDA to speed up its timeline.