The Most Shocking Anti-Smoking Campaign Yet

The FDA may have failed in its efforts to force Altria (NYSE: MO  ) , Lorillard (NYSE: LO  ) , and Reynolds American (NYSE: RAI  ) to display graphic images on their packaging as a warning against smoking, but that doesn't mean the government won't continue trying to reinforce the message.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the folks who brought you preparedness tips for the coming zombie apocalypse, will once again launch a series of TV, radio, online, print, and billboard ads to get people to quit smoking. Paid for by a public health fund set up through Obamacare, the agency will spend $48 million on the ads, which feature disabled and disfigured ex-smokers testifying to the damage caused to their bodies by smoking.

Source: CDC.gov.

The CDC says these public service announcements have helped tens of thousands of individuals quit the habit and caused calls to its quit-line to double in the weeks after a similar campaign last year.

Snuff it out
Despite dramatic declines in smoking since 2000, federal agencies continue to beat the drum on the dangers of smoking, pointing to the marketing budgets of tobacco companies. The Surgeon General says cigarette makers spend $10 billion annually to entice individuals, namely children, to smoke.

After Congress passed a law in 2009 giving the FDA the power to regulate cigarettes, the agency tried to require the companies to print graphic images and messages on cigarette packs themselves, but Lorillard and Reynolds sued and an appeals court struck it down. Altria didn't take part. The Justice Department subsequently said it wouldn't pursue it any further.

Cigarette smoking is waning, though, with Altria reporting a 0.2% decline in shipment volume in 2012. Reynolds American saw a 2.3% drop while Lorillard experienced a 1.4% falloff in shipment volumes. Overall, the industry saw a 2.3% decline.

So while the government may have lost the battle of getting these graphic images before the face of smokers as they open up a pack of cigarettes, its end run around the roadblock thrown up by the tobacco companies may help it win the war by letting even more people see them.

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Read/Post Comments (5) | Recommend This Article (2)

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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On March 30, 2013, at 4:31 PM, hughr927 wrote:

    The state of Louisiana will be super p i $ $ e d if enough people quit smoking. The Legisature just raised the tax on cigarettes by a $1.05 a pack to cover the budget deficit. If revenues drop, they raise the sales tax AGAIN or property taxes or use taxes or ........

  • Report this Comment On March 30, 2013, at 5:03 PM, mzaz86442 wrote:

    wouldn't that money be better use towards finding a cure? People already know smoking is bad.

  • Report this Comment On March 30, 2013, at 5:24 PM, teletypeed wrote:

    You can not shock someone from smoking. When you see a smoker with a hole in their throat and they continue smoking, you are wasting the Taxpayers money. My Brother died from Cancer due to smoking, he died a horrible death but smoked until he was hospitalized.

  • Report this Comment On March 30, 2013, at 6:15 PM, herky46q wrote:

    Has anyone seen Canada's anti-smoking video comparing social smoking to social farting? Quite funny.

  • Report this Comment On March 31, 2013, at 3:55 AM, sdchanman wrote:

    Self inflicted pain. masochism .

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