• Lillie Burke

FDA toughens up cigarette warnings

Will a picture of a pale corpse or a raw lip cancer on cigarette packaging make a smoker consider quitting the habit?

Maybe. Maybe not. But the Food and Drug Administration thinks it’s worth the increased effort to address the nation’s largest cause of early and preventable death.

“We want to make sure every person who picks up a pack of cigarettes knows exactly what the risk is they are taking,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told national media at a press conference Nov. 10.

These warnings will consist of nine statements along with color pictures showing the negative health consequences of smoking, such as a corpse, a person dying of cancer and a baby breathing in a cloud of second-hand smoke.

The strategy, called The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, will be the most significant in more than 25 years. Since the late 1960s, as mandated by the office of the U.S. Surgeon General, cigarette packaging has been required to note several health risks.

ABC News said that the U.S is “playing catchup” to more than 30 countries that already have big graphic images on their cigarette packages.”

Varied U.S. health statistics show that tobacco is responsible for 443,000 deaths each year and for 30 percent of all cancer deaths.  Each day around 1,200 present and past smokers died of tobacco-related illnesses.

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