Graphic smoking warnings
RICHMOND, Virginia – Corpses, cancer patients and diseased lungs are among the images the federal government plans for larger, graphic warning labels that would take up half of each pack of cigarettes sold in the United States.
Whether smokers addicted to nicotine will see them as a reason to quit remains a question.
The images are part of a campaign announced by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services yesterday to reduce tobacco use, which is responsible for about 443 000 deaths per year.
“Some very explicit, almost gruesome pictures may be necessary,” FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said in an interview with The Associated Press. “This is a very, very serious public health issue, with very, very serious medical consequences,” such as cancer, heart disease, strokes and lung diseases.
The share of Americans who smoke has fallen dramatically since 1970, from nearly 40 per cent to about 20 per cent, but the rate has stalled since about 2004. About 46 million adults in the United States smoke cigarettes.
In the same period, he average cost per pack has gone from 38 cents to $5.33. Much of those increases are from state and federal taxes.
It’s unclear why declines in smoking have stalled. Some experts have cited tobacco company discounts or lack of funding for programmes to discourage smoking or to help smokers quit.
The new prevention plan is part of a law passed in June 2009 that gave the FDA authority to regulate tobacco, including setting guidelines for marketing and labelling, banning certain products and limiting nicotine. The law doesn’t let the FDA ban nicotine or tobacco.
The FDA is proposing 36 labels for public comment. Some include a man with a tracheotomy smoking a cigarette, a cartoon of a mother blowing smoke in her baby’s face, rotting and diseased teeth and gums, as well as cigarettes being flushed down the toilet to signify quitting. (AP)