The FDA has unveiled nine new graphic warning labels that must appear on all cigarette packaging and advertising in the US beginning in the fall of 2012, in the most dramatic change to cigarette packs since the Surgeon General's warning was added in 1965.
Will graphic ads showing diseased ridden lungs, tracheotomy holes, babies in incubators, corpse's with visible heart surgery incisions, and people dying from smoking related illnesses discourage smokers from lighting up?
That is the hope of the US Government and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) who are calling the ads "the most significant advancement in communicating the dangers of smoking and the first change in cigarette warnings in more than 25 years."
They include phrases like 'smoking can kill you, cigarettes cause cancer, cigarettes are addictive, cigarettes cause fatal lung disease, cigarettes cause strokes and heart disease, and tobacco causes fatal lung disease in non-smokers.'
The United States is one of over fifty countries requiring some form of health warnings to be included on cigarette packs 'in an effort to enhance the public's awareness of the harmful effects of smoking,' smoking while pregnant, and the dangers of secondhand smoke on children and adults.
"Tobacco use is the leading cause of premature and preventable death in the United States, responsible for 443,000 deaths each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and costs our economy nearly $200 billion every year in medical costs and lost productivity," reports the FDA.
"The number of Americans who smoke has fallen significantly over the past 40 years. Forty-six million adults in the U.S., or 21 percent, smoke cigarettes, along with 20 percent of high school students, says government statistics on smoking, released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)," reported Digital Journal.
The new labeling was announced last year when the FDA and the Department of Health and Human Services begin seeking public comment on the proposed label designs, as required under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.
“President Barack Obama is committed to protecting our nation’s children and the American people from the dangers of tobacco use. These labels are frank, honest and powerful depictions of the health risks of smoking and they will help encourage smokers to quit, and prevent children from smoking,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
“President Obama wants to make tobacco-related death and disease part of the nation’s past, and not our future.”
All cigarettes manufacturers will who sell or distribute cigarettes in the United States will need to include the new warnings labels on the packages, cartons, and advertisements no later than September 2012, said the FDA news release. Each pack of cigarettes must list the smoking cessation phone number, 1-800-QUIT-NOW.
The FDA said putting the number on the packs 'increases the likelihood' that a smoker who desires to quit will call if the relevant information is in their hands at the time it's needed the most.
The change in packaging and warning labels are also designed to make them less appealing to children. Wikipedia reported the "Journal of the American Medical Association published a study in 1991 showing that more children could recognize Camel cigarettes' Joe Camel mascot than could recognize Mickey Mouse or Fred Flintstone."
Enhanced efforts have been made ever since that time to strengthen warnings and provide a more accurate portrayal of the health hazards of smoking, including eliminating cartoon character mascots in advertising.