Will New FDA Labels On Cigarettes Curb Smoking

On Tuesday, the U.S. Food and Drug administration unveiled the nine graphic health warnings that will be required to appear on every pack of cigarettes sold in the U.S., and in every cigarette advertisement, no later than September 2012.

The labels feature bold images of rotted teeth, blackened lungs, dead bodies, and crying women — among other things. These images, and accompanying messages like “Cigarettes Cause Cancer,” must cover half of each cigarette package and make up 20 percent of each cigarettes ad.

Experts are hoping that the large, graphic images will help prevent children from smoking cigarettes, encourage adults who do smoke cigarettes to quit and ensure every American understands the dangers of smoking cigarettes.

“I’ll be glad when the new advertisements appear on packaging,” said Donavan Young, a non-smoker interviewed in Tobacco Road Outlet (TBO), in Rockingham. “But I don’t necessarily think it will stop smokers from smoking cigarettes.”

Jamie Shepard, TBO clerk, and Will Currie, owner of The Smoking Cork Wine Shop, agree that the labels probably won’t deter smokers.

These conspicuous warnings represent the most significant changes to cigarette labels in more than 25 years, according the the FDA.

Each warning will be accompanied by a smoking cigarettes cessation phone number, 1-800-QUIT-NOW, in the hopes of increasing the likelihood that smokers who want to quit will be successful.

Americans have been steadily smoking cigarettes less since the 1960s, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said 46 million Americans — one in five — still smoke cigarettes and about 443,000 Americans die every year of tobacco-related illnesses. The CDC said smoking cigarettes is responsible for 90 percent of all lung cancer deaths in men and 80 percent among women.

Tobacco companies oppose the new warnings and, in a statement to the FDA, argued that the regulations violate the constitutional right to free speech.

Big tobacco could soon be joined by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), which is considering fighting the federal government’s new mandate with a lawsuit.

“We are still discussing whether we go directly with a lawsuit or whether we will enter of friend-of-the-court filing,” Dan Jaffe, ANA’s executive vice president for government relations, said in an interview with Ad Age. But “we will certainly join with others in opposing this proposal.” Jaffe added that the ANA thinks the proposal is unconstitutional because “the government on its own … can’t put words in the mouths of advertisers.”

“I think the government is overstepping its bounds on this,” said Jeremy Jones.

“I am not OK with the images they are proposing to put on packaging,” said Bob Nutall. “It’s too graphic, inappropriate and I don’t think it will stop people who want to smoke cigarettes from doing so.”

Both men were interviewed at TBO in Rockingham.

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