The FDA will chose the images by July 2011. The images will have to cover 50 percent of the front and rear of cigarette packs, and tobacco companies will have until Oct. 22, 2012 to put the images on packaging.
Although a step in the right direction, Kees said the proposed images may not be frightening enough to have much of an impact. None of the proposed images offered up by the FDA are as gruesome as those commonly used in other nations.
"Other countries have had success in using graphic visual warnings on cigarette packages," Kees said. "It's important that we don't get it wrong. If we have even one warning that is cartoonish, that leaves the door open to smokers discounting all warnings as not realistic."
Evoking fear via images is a tried-and-true method used by public health officials to frighten people into not doing some behavior, whether it's drugs or unprotected sex, said Michael Mackert, an assistant professor of advertising at University of Texas at Austin.
When he showed the FDA images to his college students, a few, including a picture of an old man grimacing because of a heart attack or stroke, evoked chuckles. Even much harsher images may not have much of an impact among certain groups, particularly young people, he said.
"Teens and younger people, if they have this air of invincibility, are they going to react to the fear appeal?" Mackert said. "A 15-year-old might think, 'Oh, that's so far away.' A lot of college students consider themselves social smokers, who smoke a few cigarettes when they're at a bar. They think, 'I don't smoke enough for that to happen to me,' or 'I'll quit before that happens to me.'"
About 21 percent of the U.S. population smokes daily, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Cont
All rights reserved