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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Persuasive Essay in Favor of Graphic Warning on Cigarette Boxes

Persuasive Essay in Favor of Graphic Warning on Cigarette Boxes

By the year 2030, smoking-related diseases will kill one out of six people ( To prevent this, the U.S. FDA, because of their authority over tobacco products since 2009, wants cigarette boxes and 20% of smoking advertisements covered with graphic warnings (Szalavitz and Rochman). Although the effectiveness of the aforementioned is being questioned, graphic warning labels retain better in memory, serves as a more visual and vivid threat, and works better with illiterate customers.

A recent study by the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine shows that graphic warnings stay in a person’s memory longer than text warnings. After asking 200 smokers to view a text-only smoking ad and a graphic ad, 83% remembered the message of the graphic labels (Szalavitz and Rochman). This is proof that the photographical part of the brain takes in more information much faster and longer. Also, this shows that graphic warnings are more effective than plain text warnings in persuading the smoking population to quit smoking.

Graphic warning labels threats its consumers about the possible bad health effects of smoking. The vision, through the graphic warning, of one’s self with numerous tubes to help them breathe most likely persuades a person to quit. In fact, when Thailand implemented graphic labels on 2005, the percentage of smokers who stated that cigarette-box warnings more likely made them quit went from 31% to 46% (Sohn). This goes to show that visual threats work far better because it paints them a picture of what they might be if they continue smoking.

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Lastly, according to the World Health Organization, graphic illustrations are more effective in conveying health information to populations with lower literacy rates. In some developing countries, many of its smokers cannot read; therefore, the textual warnings are useless. Pictorial illustrations are more effective because, though the person cannot read the photo’s caption, in a way or another, they can decipher the message of the graphic warning.

Although graphic warning labels contribute to reducing the percentage of smokers, it is still solely up to the people if they decide to let the illustrations affect their way of thinking. In the end, despite the efforts of the government, the decision of quitting smoking is still up to the person. After all, these warnings only serve as suggestions, not laws that people must obey. 


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