New Cigarette Warning Labels Won't Stop Our Kids From Smoking

Jeanne Sager
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FDA New Cigarette WarningHave you seen the FDA's new cigarette warning labels? I don't even smoke, and I think I've got the vapors. About to be slapped on every pack of cancer sticks in the US of A come September 2012, these warnings are no mamby pamby "oh, smoking might give you a wee little cough" kind of caution. They're trying to terrify the pants off of our kids.

Key word, trying. According to FDA statistics, cigarette smoking kills an estimated 443,000 Americans each year, most of whom began smoking when they were under 18 years of age. Scared your kid could be one of them? Good. You should be.

Oh, I'll give credit where credit is due; the FDA is making a big move with this overhaul of its warning labels, the first in 25 years. And Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius has made a point to talk about our kids, to say that the FDA is doing this for us parents. The government is working with us (for once). And the labels are pretty scary, just take a look at the one that really gave me the heebie jeebies:

Smoking Kills

But I'm an adult. I have faced my own mortality. Kids still think they're invincible. We certainly did. Growing up after the surgeon general started telling us that smoking could kill us, plenty of members of our generation smoked -- which explains why a bunch of the nine new warnings are directed at pregnant women and parents in particular, cautioning them that smoke can affect the fetus and secondhand smoke can sicken their kids. Our generation knew it could kill us, but many did it anyway.

What the FDA has done today is given us another tool. But they haven't taken over the role of parenting for us. We still have to sit down and do our own scaring the bejesus out of our kids. Believe it or not, our kids want to know what WE think on the matter. Don't believe me? Children of smokers are twice as likely to smoke as children of non-smokers. They watch. They ape. They care.

And it works the other way too. So you can let the government tell your kid what to think. Or you can take advantage of the government program and start a real conversation yourself. Which do you think will keep your kid from smoking?

 

Images via FDA

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