We Rank the New Cigarette Warning Labels: The Good, the Bad, and the *NSYNC


The FDA has released a bunch of new warning labels to be prominently displayed on all cigarette packs sold in the United States by June 2011. The 36 large, full-color ads (9 of which will end up on packs) are all meant to deter the buyer from smoking. Clearly. But which work the best? And which are simply ridiculous? Don’t worry, we’ll tell you!

We analyzed the ads based on three factors to arrive at an overall school-letter grade: Fear (speaks for itself), D.A.R.E. (whether or not we saw it in our 4th grade D.A.R.E. class) and Stop (will it stop smokers from smoking? Probably not).

Fear Factor: There’s no real fear here — unless you’re afraid of getting wet, of course. Some of us are.
D.A.R.E. Factor: D.A.R.E. never really showed us common annoyances smokers face, like not being able to smoke in bars or having to withstand the cold while on your ciggy break. So this is new!
Stop Factor: Why stop, when you can keep smoking? This image show you how to do it with grace, confidence, and a simple newspaper.
Overall Grade: D-

Fear Factor: Puppets are scary. But these are really marionettes. Is that scarier? There’s also something vaguely Hitchcockian about this. Did he smoke?
D.A.R.E. Factor: “Cigarettes control you” has “upwardly mobile D.A.R.E. officer” written all over it.
Stop Factor: This *NSYNC ripoff won’t change your mind about smoking, but it will get “Bye, Bye, Bye” stuck in your head. Sorry.
Overall Grade: F

Fear Factor: The lungs that first look like healthy chicken breasts turning into gross bags of popcorn- and buttermilk-flavored jelly beans (with a few licorices thrown in for good measure) took us by surprise.
D.A.R.E. Factor: Very D.A.R.E.
Stop Factor: Gross, yes. Grosser than popcorn-flavored jelly beans? Or, for that matter, raw chicken breasts? Meh.
Overall Grade: B

Fear Factor: Bubbles? Really?
D.A.R.E. Factor: Presenting the positive side of not smoking is pretty original, if completely ineffective.
Stop Factor: So, you can or can’t blow bubbles as a smoker? Who cares, pass the Newports!
Overall Grade: D-

Fear Factor: No one wants teeth like Austin Powers. But that’s the stuff of bizarro-world nightmares, not actual horror. Surely smokers visit the dentist now and again. Surely.
D.A.R.E. Factor: The lip fissure is an original touch. Cute!
Stop Factor: For whatever reason, this works on us. Not that we smoke, but we’re shallow.
Overall Grade: A-

Fear Factor: A few of the new ads aim to show how bad smoking is for little kids. This ugly penmanship is so bad it’s scary!
D.A.R.E. Factor: Reminds us of our own 4th-grade penmanship.
Stop Factor: Heartstrings unaffected, we laughed. We’re going to hell.
Overall Grade: C

Fear Factor: The only thing scarier than a picture of someone smoking through a throat hole is video of someone smoking through a throat hole.
D.A.R.E. Factor: We’ve seen this time and again. It still bugs us out. If only it didn’t look quite so fake, and like he might be enjoying the scent of his own cigarette smoke.
Stop Factor: We keep feeling our own throats. No hole there, yet. Thank God. Maybe we’ll cut back.
Overall Grade: B+