WEDNESDAY, Nov. 10 (HealthDay News) -- A series of gruesome
pictures depicting emaciated lung cancer patients, a dead body in a
morgue, a baby confined to a respirator (presumably the result of
secondhand smoke) and other consequences of smoking that will
appear on the outside of cigarette packages will hopefully shock
people into quitting the habit or not starting in the first place,
U.S. officials announced Wednesday.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration officials said a new
"comprehensive tobacco control strategy" would include not only
these graphic photos but bold statements such as "Smoking Will Kill
"Today, FDA takes a crucial step toward reducing the tremendous toll of illness and death caused by tobacco use by proposing to dramatically change how cigarette packages and advertising look in this country. When the rule takes effect, the health consequences of smoking will be obvious every time someone picks up a pack of cigarettes," U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg said in a prepared statement. "This is a concrete example of how FDA's new responsibilities for tobacco product regulation can benefit the public's health."
Dr. Len Horovitz, a pulmonary specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital
in New York City, said: "We want people to look on the side of
cigarette packages and notice that cigarettes cause heart disease,
lung cancer, emphysema, COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary
disease] and a host of other problems. We also want them to know
that light smoking is not acceptable. Even one to three cigarettes
a day triples the risk of heart disease."
The proposed new deterrents are part of a broader FDA
anti-tobacco strategy to combat the leading cause of premature and
preventable death in the United States, one that claims 1,200 lives
each day. The plan is also an outgrowth of a 2009 federal law that
gave the FDA the authority to regulate tobacco products, including
marketing and labeling guidelines, ban certain products and limit
For the pictures-on-cigarette pack strategy, the FDA will chose
by June 22, 2011, nine "graphic and textual warning statements" to
appear prominently on cigarette packages. The warnings will also
have to appear in cigarette advertisements.
By Oct. 22, 2012, tobacco companies will be required to include
these warnings on all cigarette packages sold in the United
Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association, applauded
the new proposals.
"With today's publication of the Food and Drug Administration's proposed rule to modify required warning labels on cigarette packages and advertisements, we hope more Americans will resist the temptations of tobacco use and participate in evidence-based smoking cessation programs that include counseling and pharmacotherapies," she said in a statement.
Reynolds American Inc., the parent company of the nation's
second-largest cigarette maker, R.J. Reynolds, is reviewing the
labeling plan. But spokesman David Howard said the legality of the
new labels is part of a lawsuit filed by the company, Lorillard
Inc. and other cigarette makers that is pending in federal appeals
Associated Press reported.
In their lawsuit, the tobacco makers contend that the warnings
would relegate the companies' brands to the bottom half of the
cigarette packaging, making it "difficult, if not impossible, to
Over the last decade, countries as varied as Canada, Australia,
Chile, Brazil, Iran and Singapore, among others, have adopted
graphic warnings on tobacco products. Some are downright
disturbing: in Brazil, cigarette packages come with pictures of
dead babies and a gangrened foot with blackened toes.
Currently, the United States has some of the weakest
requirements for cigarette package warnings in the world, David
Hammond, an assistant professor in the department of health studies
at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, told
HealthDay. The text-only warnings on packages have changed little since 1984.
Elsewhere, graphic warnings seem to be helping to drive down
smoking rates. In Canada, about 13 percent of the population smokes
daily, a 5 percent drop since graphic warnings were adopted in
2000, according to Hammond.
View some of the proposed images and text on the
FDA Web site.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Copyright © EBSCO Publishing. All rights reserved.