June 22, 2011

Tobacco Gets Graphic

If you plan to purchase cigarette packs after September 2012 you may be surprised, or even disturbed by what you see. The Food and Drug Administration is requiring graphic warning labels with images ranging from a man exhaling smoke through a tracheotomy hole in his neck to a diseased lung to be placed prominently on cigarette packs. Cigarette marketers also will be required to place 1-800-QUIT-NOW numbers on new packaging.

The vivid images are the biggest change to cigarette warning labels since the mid 1980s, when the government began requiring tobacco companies to put health warnings on cigarette packs and tobacco ads. Targeting the cigarette packages themselves shows that the FDA understands the importance of compelling package design. Consumers are influenced by the entire experience of a product. The design of the outside of a package is just as important as what’s inside. A package is more than just a container; it is an asset that can motivate a purchase. Having an effective package design in a crowded marketplace is essential to making a product stand out.

So where does a tobacco company go from here? How does one market a product with packaging designed to shock consumers and discourage them from using the product? “The cigarette companies are in an environment where their product is seen as dangerous,” Brannon Cashion, president of Addison Whitney, told USA TODAY. He points out that tobacco marketers have done a good job dealing with growing anti-smoking efforts. What they need to do is stress innovation, such as developing low nicotine and electronic cigarettes.

“In order to continue to manufacture the product, they have to continue to put innovations in place that can do everything possible to make as safe an environment as possible for those who smoke and the people most affected with their smoking.”

For more information on the new FDA cigarette health warnings, click here.

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