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Sellers Doubt Cigarette Pack Scares Will Work

It will be more difficult to overlook anti-smoking cigarettes messages on cigarette packs when jarring images including damaged lungs and a smoker with a tracheotomy incision start showing up prominently in 2012.

Mandated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration under the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and cheap cigarette online Control Act, the photographs and messages chosen for the campaign are sparking advance conversation.

The issue has added importance in Ohio, which has drastically reduced state funding for anti-smoking cigarettes campaigns despite a smoking cigarettes rate of more than 22 percent in the adult population and 40 percent among state Medicaid recipients.

Some smokers in the Dayton area, those who sell cheap cigarettes and even those who teach and study cigarette marketing and advertising on area campuses all expressed doubt that the new scare tactics will influence the smoking cigarettes rate.

“It won’t make any difference,” said Ed Alkhateeb, owner of Smokers Saver Inc. on South Smithville Road in Dayton.

“They have had those same kinds of pictures on packs in Europe and the Middle East for more than five years. I travel back and forth often. People who smoked there still smoke,” said the native Palestinian, who lives in Kettering.

A few miles south at Rich, formerly known as Smokes for Less, on Wilmington Pike in Kettering, the clerk at the cash register had the same opinion.

“People will smoke cigarettes regardless,” said Chanel Rutledge, who has worked at the store for two years. “Some people who have had tracheotomies still come in to buy cigarettes now. So do people who are on oxygen. They are going to keep coming in,” the Dayton resident said.

“Pictures won’t stop them. The one thing that might is price,” Rutledge said. “If it went up to $7 a pack, that would have some impact.”

Specials at Smoker’s Saver included $5.15 for a pack of Marlboro and $5.33 for a pack of Basic. Posters near the entrance advertised Camel, with its famous animal logo, and American Spirit cigarettes, touted as “100 percent additive free.”

The American Spirit icon is an American Indian figure in a chief’s headdress smoking cigarettes a long white cylinder like a peace pipe stem with a white eagle feather on the end, instead of smoke.

There were no repellent images or messages in view, a situation that will change with the FDA requirements.

“I haven’t really thought about the changes that are coming,” said Alkhateeb, who has sold cigarettes for sale products for 16 years. “I don’t think it will have much effect. Business is steady.”

The FDA’s stated mission is to increase awareness of health risks associated with smoking cigarettes, to encourage smokers to quit and to “empower youth to say no to cigarettes.”

The government agency chose nine photos and rejected 27, based on research into their effectiveness. Starting in September 2012, they will occupy 50 percent of the front and rear panels of each cigarette pack, along with statements about the dangers of smoking cigarettes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 46 million people or 20.6 percent of all United States adults ages 18 and older are smokers. The rate is higher among men (23.5 percent) than women (17.9 percent).

Robert Payne, 26, of Kettering, who bought a pack of Basics menthol and a pack of Winston regular at Rich, said the new images “won’t change anything for people like me who have been smoking cigarettes for years. It might deter younger kids from doing it, but it might not have stopped me. I started at 16 because other kids were doing it.”

Another customer, Rex Smith of Centerville, said the new packs “may keep kids from taking up the habit, but they showed us photographs like that when I was in school and that didn’t stop me.”

He bought a week’s supply of electronic-cigarette refills because the cost is only one-third to one-fourth of regular cigarettes.

“Cigarettes cause cancer, but they are far from the only thing that’s bad for us,” he said. “Why stop there? Why not require a picture of a fat guy on every cheeseburger?”

Lisa Selvia of Kettering, a board member of the Dayton Society of Painters and Sculptors who teaches graphic design at Sinclair Community College and the Art Institute of Ohio, doesn’t smoke cigarettes and said she considers herself “very anti-smoking cigarettes.”

“From a graphic-design perspective, I think we’ve long been inured to the printed warnings on cigarette packs. Words are easy to ignore,” she said. “So, a change makes sense.”

Members of the marketing faculties at Wright State University and the University of Dayton cited studies that show people will turn away from images that are too graphic.

“It’s like looking at a scary movie,” said Tracy Harmon, an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Dayton, who co-authored a 2011 article on the need for education about and regulation of hookah smoking cigarettes.

Harmon said the FDA’s campaign “will be more effective for nonsmokers because smoking cigarettes is a socially embedded behavior.”

She said one reason governments may be eliminating funding for anti-smoking cigarettes messages may be that “they aren’t seeing the outcome they want to see. This is putting the onus on the cigarettes companies. The government won’t be paying for the packaging.”