Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Are Anti-Smoking Campaigns Working?

Pictures Courtesy of BBC

It seems smokers the world over are persons under siege. There are anti-smoking campaigns upon anti-smoking campaigns, warnings, heavy taxes and rising prices. And with good reason. We are all in agreement that smoking indeed does harm your health.

For many years, smokers have only had to contend with a faintly written message on the packet. These often stark warnings vary from country to country and here are some examples. Cigarette smoking may be harmful to your health. Smoking causes mouth and throat cancer. Smoking clogs your arteries. 85% of lung cancers are caused by smoking. 80% of lung cancer victims die within 3 years. Smoking is lethal. Smoking makes your skin age. Smoking damages sperm and reduces fertility. Smoking can cause a slow and painful death – and so on and so forth. The warnings are endless.

Here in Kenya, rules are getting tougher by the day. Smokers now cannot buy a single stick and they have to go smoking in designated areas in far flung corners of town. Other countries have taken the battle against the stick a notch higher with companies being required to print shocking graphic images on the packets depicting the effects of cigarette smoking. Imagine buying your favorite brand of cigarettes only to be confronted by any of the following gruesome images on the packet:

  • Diseased Lungs
  • Rotten Teeth
  • Gangrenous Toes
  • Damaged hearts
  • A fetus in the womb
  • A dying man in an oxygen mask
  • A coughing child
  • A limp cigarette signifying impotence

The images are very disturbing. I mean you do not want to see a fetus on a cigarette pack. The graphics are meant to shock the user and evoke mental images of him/herself ending up really sick or in the case of ladies, giving birth to a sick or deformed baby. In short they’re meant to make smoking less glamorous especially to the young. The strategy has worked in countries where it has been operating for some years.

So smoking is harmful to your health. But so are many other things. Beer, fast foods, Let’s take fast foods for example. They may not have 4000 chemicals in a single plate but what about their high percentage of fat and salt and the subsequent effect on cholesterol and high blood pressure? Is it not fair then to expect fast food restaurants to have pictures of people who have been affected by prolonged fast food consumption?


Taabu said...

Somethings will never change. Human beings are adept to dicing with death. Everybody knows the fatal effects of smoking but they will shamelessly justify the habit with very wild theories-utakufa anyway.

It leaves you wondering why people who struggle to put any decent meal on a table can afford to budget for packets of cigarattes. Mtoto akililia wembe....

Did you say .......other countries have taken the battle against the stick a notch higher?

Well, mmmhh! just imagining what you meant honestly.

Mcheku said...

Well, I have seen cigarette packs written in very big letters 'Smoking Kills' Smoking causes Lung Cancer' I mean the warnings can be seen from 2 feet away coz they are that big! But you will still see people buying them!

I dont know how much more than this, that governments can go to dissuade people from smoking but surely?! I think they have done enough and sadly these campaigns are not working.

In my opinion the graphic images are alright given that smokers not only harm themselves but those around them as well. Let them be brutally shocked if that makes people stop. And Shiko, you cannot compare smokers and fast food and beer consumers given these people harm no one but themselves, so for that reason it is not fair to expect anyone to tell them to stop eating fries.

Anyway smokers can smoke all they want its their health!

Kirima said...

Its true that the campaign may not be giving very big effects on smokers themselves but I am extremely happy with the ban on public smoking if the smokers want to continue smoking its up to them but they should not inconvenience non-smokers.

Half n Half said...

Actually, despite the fact that selling of single cigarretes was disallowed, it still happens!

To be honest, every single person who smokes knows the danger of smoking! There is just something missing in the campaign... They need to target the belief that smoking seems fun!

Besides its not that easy to break the addiction. I think they should target more the young ones who have not started!

Anonymous said...

the limp cigarette signifying importence - that one will work for sure.

Shiko-Msa said...

Taabu I'm sure you've figured out what I meant by stick ama? Lol. I meant the stick that causes lung cancer and heart damage.

Mcheku I get your point. Beer harms families bwana. Imagine if your hubby comes home daily drunk and smelling like God knows what. Or a loved one eating their way to a heart attack while you watch, si you'll feel some anguish. Don't worry I don't mean the occasional plate of fries. hiyo mpaka tukule.

True Kirima but they're still smoking in offices relying on the good will of their colleagues not to do anything about it. But the ban on public smoking is quite welcome.

Half and half I'd not be surprised if they're still selling single sticks. We have a real problem following the law haki. So the idea is to un-glamorize smoking especially for the young ones. Maybe as anon says, the limp cigarette will do.

Taabu said...

Are you sure beers harm families? Well, maybe maybe not. Drinking has been cheekily defined as REARRANGEMENT of priorities and dependeing on the objective one may just decide to give leave to his mental faculties.

Ati imagining your hubby coming home always staggering and reeking of Ruaraka. Think of the possitive side (ignoring his ugly belly and bad breath), PEACEFUL NIGHT-no demands, ama?

Shiko-Msa said...

Taabu Lol. I rest my case.

BP ONE said...

Though Millions of dollars are spent worldwide annually on advertising designed to stop people from indulging in risky behaviors, they seem to go largely unheeded. Why Do people Stick To their Bad Habits? Why do they ignore public warnings and advertisements about the dangers of smoking, drinking alcohol, overeating, stressing? In short why do people continue with destructive habits that they know are bad?
Researchers say that such campaigns are missing the mark because they are yet to tackle the underlying issues that make such destructive habits so attractive in the first place.
Dr. Cindy Jardine, an assistant professor of rural sociology at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada says “In two recent case studies asking people to rate the danger of various types of risks including lifestyle habits, it was clear that they understood what types of behaviour are the riskiest, but that knowledge wasn't enough to motivate them to change their ways,The results showed that in fact, people have a very realistic understanding of the various risks in their lives”. Dr. Cindy says ”We as risk communicators--scientists, academics, government agencies--have to get beyond the thought of 'If they only understood the facts, they'd change.' They do understand the facts, but we need to look at other factors we haven't been looking at before……we all need to become aware of the social triggers that lead to unhealthy lifestyle choices, and familiarize ourselves with the complex psychological factors at play. We need to look at social norms and why they are starting to dictate our actions. We as a society have to rethink and challenge those norms.”
Shiko…. I agree with this research gruesome images and warnings alone will not help.

Our Kid said...

What are you doing. Those pics are horrific.

Are they also going to put pictures of accident victims on ma3s

seinlife said...

As selfish as this sounds, i think if they can find a way for smokers to only affect themselves and not pollute the rest of us with second hand smoke then I personally would be quite content! After all we all have freedom to pick our 'legal' poisons right?

Shiko-Msa said...

Our kid there are others which are even worse. They looked so gruesome I could not even post them. These are the better ones.

Seinlife yes you have the freedom to choose which poisons you'll take in. That is not selfish at all.

BP welcome back. Thanks for that piece of research. We know these things are bad and yet we still do them anyway. Too bad.

Lauren said...

I really hate this argument. It's very intellectually dishonest. When a person CHOOSES to smoke they are inflicting their addiction on others. When a person chooses to eat fast food they are only polluting themselves. There are some things we have no choice about, like car emissions...life needs balance. But this is a very bad comparrison you and many others try to make. It's just NOT the same as living with modern functions of society, where we must learn to live in balance with what comes with that.

Shiko-Msa said...

Lauren thanks for your opinion. I hear you.

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