Research Firm Report Estimates that Graphic Warning Labels Will Reduce Cigarette Consumption by No More than 1%

The following article is on Michael Seigel’s blog.
What are your thoughts?

Research Firm Report Estimates that Graphic Warning Labels Will Reduce Cigarette Consumption by No More than 1%
A report by the research firm IBISWorld estimates that the graphic warning labels to be placed on cigarettes staring next year will reduce cigarette consumption by no more than 1%, according to an Associated Press article.

According to the article: “The nation’s top tobacco companies’ sales aren’t expected to go up in smoke despite new grisly warning labels that are set to appear on U.S. cigarettes packs next year. The graphic labels, which were released in June by the Food and Drug Administration and include an image of rotting teeth and gums, will cause a decline of less than one percent in overall U.S. tobacco revenues in 2013, according to a recent analysis by research firm IBISWorld. An average person smokes fifteen cigarettes a day at a cost of about $1,500 per year, which translates to about $300 million in lost revenue. That’s only a fraction of the estimated $43.8 billion in revenue for the tobacco industry in 2013, the firm’s calculation show.”

The IBISWorld analyst predicted that “in the near term, it won’t have much of an impact.”

The Rest of the Story

This analysis comports with my own evaluation of the likely impact of the warning labels, which I opined last week would be minimal. However, politicians (like Senator Lautenberg) and anti-smoking organizations (like the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and World Health Organization) have been boasting about how much of an impact these warning labels will have.

Sadly, the warning labels are the strongest aspect, and only real public health benefit of the FDA Tobacco Act. There is nothing else in the legislation which will have any substantial positive public health impact. And the positive effect of the warning labels is estimated to be quite minimal.

The one substantial effect which these warning labels will have, however, is to completely immunize the tobacco industry against litigation. No jury is going to find the tobacco companies responsible, or even partly responsible, for damage caused by their products when these companies can argue that consumers are adequately warned of the product’s dangers by virtue of these large warning labels.

I believe that for the industry, the benefits of virtual immunity against future litigation will outweigh the one percent or so decline in cigarette sales.

The FDA Tobacco Act remains, in my opinion, one of the worst deals ever agreed to by a public health organization.


#1 Vapor Vixen on 07.19.11 at 1:09 AM

Like we didn’t know this!

#2 Jenny on 07.26.11 at 10:30 AM

Of course, tobacco companies will make everything in order not to lose their revenue and people will not stop smoking only because of grisly warning labels on cigarette packages.

#3 Anonymous on 08.04.11 at 9:19 AM


#4 Mike on 08.13.11 at 2:40 PM

Cigarette warning labels already having an impact

By The Associated Press

Published 05 July 2011 10:56 AM

Graphic new cigarette warning labels already may be having the desired effect: Calls to a national smoker’s quit line more than doubled the day they hit the media.

The warning labels won’t appear on cigarettes until next year, but they were unveiled to the media last week.

Calls to the national 1-800-QUIT-NOW smoking cessation line surpassed 4,800 that Tuesday and 3,200 the next day. A typical Tuesday or Wednesday in June sees about 2,000 calls.

The new labels replace the traditional small, white “Surgeon General’s Warning” text strips with graphic photograph warnings that cover the entire top half of each cigarette pack.

Versions of the new labels include depictions of diseased lungs and rotting teeth and gums. They also carry the 1-800-QUIT-NOW number, which the old labels did not.

#5 Elm on 10.27.11 at 1:27 AM

These obscene graphics are the epitome of the PSYOP BIG PHARMA is waging against the general population in the name of a false & extremely biased science. The war upon tobacco has served as a smoke screen – a red-herring to deflect attention from the more pernitious causes of disease, which include, but are not limited too, white processed & GMO corn fructose sugars & an enzyme & minerally deficient diet. In view of a collapse of the nutritional value in most “convenience” foods, tobacco smoke is the least of our problems. The people are suffering from a lack of proper nutrition due to an aduleration, commercialization & denaturing of the food supply. Hands down, nutrition is being sacrificed for shelf-life, a concentration of economic power & profit.

There was a high degree of wisdom in the motto, “Reach For A Lucky Instead of A Sweet,” being as how white processed sugars & pasteurized dairy feed all cancers & promote heart disease.

#6 Elm on 10.27.11 at 1:37 AM

To be fair, all sugar laden foods, including pasta which converts into sugar, should be likewise labeled with the warning… “EATING THIS FOOD CAUSES DIABETES.”

All soda pop, candy & sugar laced bakery procducts, should be kept in locked cabinets, their sales restricted to “adults” addicted to these harmful substances. In addition, all liquor & beer bottles should be forced to cover their products with obscene graphics of car accidents & depictions of wife abuse & family violence. And oh yes, those who wish to consume sugar saturated foods & soda pop, must do so 10 ft from any open door in the rain. Smokers have been subsidizing the medical costs for diabetics for far too long.

Further, it comes to mind, whenever the Government & its Agencies portend to do anything for “the good of the people,” there MUST be an opposite intention.

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