When TCU announced that Lady Antebellum would be playing the fall concert this year, I was ecstatic. It turned out to be just as wonderful as I’d expected. Halfway through the concert though, a man standing near me and my sister lit up a cigarette and began blowing smoke my sister’s direction. She was coughing uncontrollably and having trouble breathing, so I switched spots with her. The smoke wasn’t any easier on me. By the end of the concert I was thoroughly miserable.
I’m saying this to make a point. I am adamantly against smoking and believe that everyone who chooses to smoke should be hyperconscious of the consequences it has on others.
However the new Food and Drug Administration law requiring cigarette companies to cover at least 50 percent of their packaging with graphic illustrations and pictures of smoking consequences is hard for me to handle.
In a New York Times article, public health officials argued that the new packaging requirement will “re-energize the nation’s antismoking efforts.” But why do they need to be re-energized? Anyone who grew up in the United States school system can tell you about numerous presentations, lectures and videos they watched about smoking and why it is bad for your health. There are posters with graphic images of decaying teeth and tar-filled lungs lining the hallways and aggressive school rules that combat smoking on campus.
When people in the United States start smoking, they do it in full knowledge of the consequences. You could even say that all the efforts to expose harmful effects of cigarettes actually desensitizes potential smokers and causes them to ignore warnings.
Underlying all this is the issue of free speech. It has been established that the government can require warning labels on products that are potentially bad for the public health. But is it really all right to allow them to start designing packaging for tobacco companies and requiring them to use it, no matter the consequences? In addition to being an expensive mess for the companies, tobacco retailers will also suffer. The new designs are intended to cover the top half of each cigarette pack, the only part of the pack usually displayed for sale because, traditionally, brand names are located there. Retailers will have to invest in new display models with little to no hope of reimbursement.
Tobacco companies are currently fighting the ruling in court, and in the meantime are looking at other methods, such as slipcovers, to conceal the labels.
Labels or not, smokers know what they’re getting themselves into. As one man said in the comments of a Sky.com article announcing the change, “Indeed it is a powerfully addictive and destructive drug. So what are they going to put on alcohol bottles?”
Danika Scevers is a freshman pre-major from Abilene.