Something to ponder: is this fundamentally different from other packaging laws (e.g. requiring nutrition information), and if so, what's the brightline that distinguishes it?
I would say that yes, it is different from other packaging laws because of the content of the message. Nutritional information (e.g. ingredients, calorie content, etc.) is made up of objective, verifiable, factual information. If a product lists an ingredient, and you consume the product, you know you have consumed the ingredient.
The pictures Sharkfin speaks of are not facts, but images with emotional appeal. They imply that certain things might happen, but they are not statements of objective facts. They are more like propaganda. Indeed, they are propaganda.
Overall, I think it should be up to individual responsibility to research the pros and cons of the products they choose to purchase and the substances they choose to consume. It's not the government's job to become a nanny state that tells us what we can and cannot put into our bodies.
That's why we need freedom of information. If people value their own health, they'll look into the information that's out there. If not, then the pictures probably wouldn't affect them anyway. No need for government direction.
I think if it reduces smoking it is good. In this particular case, I'd value life more than freedom.
Caleb, I think you bring up a very good point. Life and freedom seem to be in conflict here, and who doesn't support the value of life? I would have to say that the real conflict comes between responsibility and protection. Safety is important, but I think freedom is more valuable in this instance because without the initial freedom to choose, people will never learn to be responsible and to improve their lifestyles by themselves. I believe that the learning experience, the progression, is worth more than immediate safety.
Caleb, since so far you are the only differing opinion, I'd love to hear more from your side of the issue.