How Will New Cigarette Warning Labels Affect Shop Owners?

Despite the graphic new labels, local business owners don't think the FDA's attempts to deter cigarette smokers will hurt sales.

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Despite new cigarette warning labels, shop owners aren't worried about sales.The Food and Drug Administration released nine new graphic warning labels on Tuesday to be displayed on cigarette cartons beginning next year. The labels, which feature images such as a cadaver and a man exhaling smoke through a tracheotomy hole in his neck accompanied by warning text, will cover at least 50 percent of the packaging.

The new label -- the first change in over 20 years -- is the result of The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which was passed in 2009.

AOL Small Business took to the streets of New York, curious to hear the opinions of the small-shop owners who sell cigarettes. Will the new labels deter smokers from buying cigarettes, as the FDA hopes, and if so, how will it affect business at the local corner store? We showed them the new labels and got their reactions.

Lafayette Smoke Shop owner Hemal Sheth was quick to dismiss the effect of the graphic labels on his sales. "[Cigarette sales] are already down because of the price," he said.

Sheth highlights another ill-received tactic by the government: high cigarette taxes. In an effort to deter smokers by hiking up prices, the national price average sits at about $5.50 per pack. To the dismay of New York smokers and business owners like Sheth, cigarette prices in New York run anywhere between $11 and $13 per pack, the highest in the nation.

The D&D Deli is trying to do its part in deterring smokers from purchasing cigarettes, displaying a large graphic poster with the warning "Smoking Kills" above its cigarette case. Manager Jeakwan Park reflected on the labels, saying, "I don't think it will stop them. We have a poster above the cigarette case and that doesn't stop them, so I don't think this will either."

And while most shop owners are worried about losing sales from smokers, some, like Jubilee Marketplace manager Jin Choi, are more concerned with the labels' effects on non-smoking customers. "Personally, I don't think it is suitable for the store," said Choi. "The cigarettes are on the counter and the images will make other customers lose their appetites."

Tags: cigarette business, cigarette sales, News

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