Nine graphic images designed to warn Americans about the health dangers of smoking have been released by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The new images will appear in every cigarette ad, on every cigarette carton, and on every pack of cigarettes sold in the U.S. no later September 2012. These new warnings are required under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act passed by Congress and signed into law in June 2009.
Each warning is accompanied by a smoking cessation phone number, 1-800-QUIT-NOW, the theory being that it will be seen at the moment it is most relevant to smokers. The goal is to decrease the number of people who smoke, or who are considering smoking, resulting in better health and longer life expectancy.
Tobacco use causes 443,000 U.S. deaths annually, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, making it the leading cause of premature and preventable death. Related medical costs and lost productivity cost our economy almost $200 billion each year.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius released a statement saying, “President 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. President Obama wants to make tobacco-related death and disease part of the nation’s past, and not our future.”
Beginning in September 2012, the new cigarette health warnings must appear on the top 50 percent of both the front and rear panels of each cigarette package, and in the upper portion of each cigarette ad, taking up at least 20 percent of the space.
Key Dates for Implementing Cigarette Health Warnings
* November 12, 2010 – FDA released 36 proposed color graphic images and a proposed rule for public comment.
* June 21, 2011 – FDA announced its selection of nine new cigarette health warnings
* June 22, 2011 – FDA’s final rule, “Required Warnings for Cigarette Packages and Advertisements,” publishes in the Federal Register
* September 22, 2012 – Cigarettes for sale or distribution in the United States can no longer be manufactured or advertised without the new cigarette health warnings
* October 22, 2012 – Cigarette manufacturers can no longer distribute cigarettes for sale in the United States unless they display the new cigarette health warnings
We’ve certainly know about the dangers of smoking for a long time. It remains to be seen whether these new, more graphic images will have any impact at all.
Story source and image: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services