Monday, September 25, 2006

DO- Death 'N' Stuff

A post by Jessica Helfand.

This post focuses on cigarettes, using packaging to tie it to design.

Helfand questions packaging of cigarettes. How do you make one see rather than look? Warnings have been on cigarettes for a number of years. Even before the warnings existed, it was generally accepted that they posed a health threat. Yet people still smoke. How can they look past societal warnings?

350,000 Americans die of lung disease every year. She says change must happen. The government may step in, using the RICO act against the cigarette companies on charges that they hid smokings killing effects for years. However, she argues the goverment cannot be alone in bringing change.

Europe, for instance, has included a version of "Smoking Kills" in large type on cigarette packs for some time.

Now, the UK is planning on using shocking photographs instead. They are conducting polls on the content of the pictures to find which will be most effective.

Helfand laments that we, as a society, dismiss the epidemic.

Most of what she states is right on target. The screen has made cigarettes more glamorous, and those who smoke ignore blatant health risks. However, smoking rates have declined five percent in 5 years. Less and less of the college youth smoke, and the youth nationwide. It is a battle, I think, propaganda is winning. All the money the government poured into the school system to battle the allure has paid off. Even cities are banning smoking in buildings for health concerns (it will happen here very soon). I think the public is informed on the issue, and it is a personal choice. Taxes have doubled cigarette prices over the few years (supposedly to combat the weighty price added onto taxpayers by smokers dying in hospitals. Oddly enough, over half the smokers die before they can draw social security, with the others following quickly. The raised taxes make the public feel cigarette companies are being impacted while the government rakes in the money).

Cigarettes are bad. I get it. Now lets pour the same amounts of tax money as the anti-smoking campaign into stopping the arms trade, or studying the effects of overconsumption in our culture on the world. Or grade school educator's salaries.

2 Comments:

Blogger marydorsey said...

In the 50s and 60s, everyone I know smoked, including adults, teenagers, etc. I smoked 2 packs of Marlboros a day for 6 years.

Sometime during the early 70s, it was PROVEN that smoking caused lung cancer, and EVERYONE I knew quit! People took pills, did hypnosis, etc. to quit. There were even advertising campaigns during TV cartoon times designed to encourage even young children to put pressure on their parents to stop smoking, and it worked!

But it really did NOT work. These same children who ridiculed their smoking parents now think it is cool to smoke! I don't think it is advertising because cigarettes can't even be advertised on TV. Suicide? Stupidity? I don't know. I just don't get it!!!!!

I suppose history could repeat itself and we could again mount an anti-smoking campaign....

8:58 PM  
Blogger Professor Melis said...

It's an interesting question of when we need to stop worrying about information and when it's still our societal responsibility to provide more or make it more dramatic. I know people who have argued that if we really cared about our youth we would create propoganda and laws regarding the fact that, supposedly, more Americans are killed in car accidents every year than were killed in the Vietnam war. Given that I've lost several friends that way, I have to wonder. I don't advocate not driving, but I did wait until I was older to start and sometimes I wonder why such possibilities or propoganda are never discussed while anti-tobacco and the drug-war is always a priority.

9:36 PM  

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