How's This for a Stop Smoking Aid?

Cynthia Dermody
World No Tobacco Day 2009

World No Tobacco Day 2009 Poster

Would this graphic image get you to stop smoking?

Do you think it might prevent you -- or your kids -- from starting in the first place?

That's what members of the Pan American Health Organization, a regional office of the World Health Organization that covers North and South America, are hoping. They can do better than that. They say there's proof that graphic images of tobacco's effects are an extremely effective deterrent.

Other "sample" images include a toddler in the ICU hooked up to an oxygen mask inhaling ciggy fumes, stressing the point that second hand smoke is dangerous, and a real human brain leaking blood to emphasize stroke risk.

The group is asking that images like these be mandatory on all cigarette boxes and cartons. The plea comes on the eve of World No Tobacco Day 2009.

"Tobacco companies should not be allowed to fool people into thinking that smoking is anything but harmful and ugly," said the PAHO Director Dr. Mirta Roses.

As for the proof that these images work:

In Brazil, which began requiring the warnings in 2002, 54 percent of smokers changed their minds about the effects of smoking, and two-thirds said the warnings made them want to quit. Calls to a toll-free "quit line" in Brazil increased nearly ninefold.

In Canada, 58 percent of smokers said they thought more about the health effects of smoking because of the warnings, 44 percent said the warnings increased their motivation to quit, and 27 percent said they smoked less inside their homes as a result of picture warnings.

How would you react if the powers-that-be mandated these graphic images on all cigarette boxes in the U.S.? Would it work? Would it change your mind?

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