The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Cancer sticks: reflections from a nonsmoker


Tobacco use can cause cancer, lung disease, stroke, heart disease, and harm nonsmokers. Tobacco can kill you and those you love.

Yet Americans are still smoking, and still justifying their behavior with lame excuses: It is not a big deal. I need it for stress. I am addicted. I will stop when I am older. I am too old to stop.

In a new tobacco control strategy, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) is going to require cigarette companies to put bolder warning labels and graphic images on their packs and other products.

I think these new marketing strategies are a good step in the right direction. After looking at the proposed images and labels, I immediately wanted to show them to my smoker friends.

As a nonsmoker whose boyfriends and best friends have, for the most part, all been serious smokers, I have struggled with being the person constantly ragging on them about the dangers of smoking, making snide comments when they have to go out in the rain or make a stop at the store for their “cancer sticks.”

“Isn’t that disgusting and disturbing?” I ask, showing them pictures of a dying cancer patient, a child getting cigarette smoke blown in their face, a man with a tracheotomy. The carton labels read: “Warning: Cigarettes cause cancer,” or “Warning: Tobacco smoke can harm your children.”

 My friends all responded that they knew the dangers of smoking; putting it on a box is not going to stop them or anyone else. They just find it gross. 

When I mentioned the possibility of it stopping children from trying out a pack they seemed equally unfazed, responding that kids are kids; if they want to try cigarettes they are going to no matter what you tell them.

I, on the other hand, disagree. You cannot see something that disturbing everyday, multiple times a day, every single time you crave a cigarette and not have those images and words sink in.

This strategy is part of a larger plan of the FDA’s to start preventing people from smoking and helping people quit. The labels will not come out until around September 2011, but it all seems to be heading in the right direction.

Two of my grandparents died from lung cancer, one of them had emphysema for the last 10 years of her life. But when they started smoking, the health effects of smoking were not widely known or believed. Cigarette companies hushed up the studies done about the harm it could cause.

In this generation, we do not have that excuse. We have grown up knowing the health risks, being warned by our parents, mentors, and teachers.

It is time that we start listening and stop buying into social excuses and corporate marketing. Think about how difficult this habit is making your life, the lives of those you care about, your wallet, your time, and decide this little stick of poison is not your friend.

Once you become empowered and jump on that better smelling, cheaper, healthier horse, do not get off, not for a bad day, a bad month, or a bad year. Because as soon as you give in to that excuse, more will follow and those bad times will start spiraling and get worse and worse until you cannot even remember why you started again.

The last proposed label by the FDA reads: “Warning: Quitting smoking now greatly reduces serious risks to your health.” The images that accompany this label are of a woman blowing a bubble and a man standing strong. I implore you to join them.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

The Guilfordian intends for this area to be used to foster healthy, thought-provoking discussion. Comments are expected to adhere to our standards and to be respectful and constructive. As such, we do not permit the use of profanity, foul language, personal attacks, or the use of language that might be interpreted as libelous. Comments are reviewed and must be approved by a moderator to ensure that they meet these standards. The Guilfordian does not allow anonymous comments, and requires a valid email address. The email address will not be displayed but will be used to confirm your comments.
All The Guilfordian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *