Friday, May 29, 2009

Demarketing Tobacco

In marketing jargon, demarketing means to reduce demand for a product, and that's exactly what the World Health Organization is aiming to do for tobacco products. It's been campaigning to have regulatory agencies worldwide discourage people from smoking by posting pictorial warnings on cigarette packs.

The WSJ has posted a few graphic warnings as a taste of what's to come, if regulators follow WHO's strong suggestion. Canada was the first nation to require pictorial health warnings on cigarettes, and apparently demand is down.

Now some 2 dozen countries do so, and more are following suit. India is poised to start such labeling on June 1, after months of delays and discussions about how graphic the photos should actually be. Thailand is soon to add color photos to better highlight the health risks and, yes, make them graphic to reinforce the dangers. Will the United States go down this road?

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