Warning: cigarette packages are about to get a lot more truthful, in a very graphic way.
After posting the same text warning on the side of cigarette packages (“Surgeon General’s Warning: Quitting smoking now greatly reduces serious risks to your health”) for the last two decades, the government is stepping in and requiring stronger language and graphics, including color pictures of diseased lungs and dead bodies.
The warnings will also take up a greater portion of the packaging.
Don’t miss a thing. Get breaking news alerts delivered right to your inbox
Why the graphic smack in the face? Because studies have shown that current warnings do not motivate consumers enough to consider the concept being communicated or motivate a smoker or potential smoker to change.
The FDA issued a proposed rule, Required Warnings for Cigarette Packages and Advertisements, proposing to modify the required warnings that appear on cigarette packages and in cigarette advertisements. These new required warnings would consist of nine new textual warning statements accompanied by color graphics depicting the negative health consequences of smoking.
According to the report, cigarette smoking kills an estimated 443,000 Americans each year, most of whom began smoking when they were under the age of 18. Smoking causes more deaths than AIDS, alcohol, illegal drug use, homicide, suicide and motor vehicle crashes, due to the highly addictive nature and severe health risks. It is the more preventable cause of death in America and has been shown to cause cancer, heart disease and other serious health problems.
Smoking causes direct health care expenditures of approximately $96 billion a year and costs businesses about the same amount in annual productivity losses.
The Tobacco Control Act requires FDA to issue final regulations requiring these color graphics by June 22, 2011. It also specifies that the requirement for the new health warnings on cigarette packages and advertisements will take effect 15 months after issuance of this final rule.
FDA is seeking public comment on the proposed rule through January 9, 2011. To submit an official comment, go to www.regulations.gov and insert docket number FDA-2010-N-0568 into the “search” box and follow the prompts or visit www.fda.gov/cigarettewarnings to view the proposed labels and send a fax, with your comments, to 301-827-6870.
Proposed craphic health warnings for cigarette packages and advertisements include:
WARNING: Tobacco smoke can harm your children.
WARNING: Cigarettes cause fatal lung disease.
WARNING: Cigarettes cause cancer.
WARNING: Cigarettes cause strokes and heart disease.
WARNING: Smoking during pregnancy can harm your baby.
WARNING: Smoking can kill you.
WARNING: Tobacco smoke causes fatal lung disease in nonsmokers.
WARNING: Quitting smoking now greatly reduces serious risks to your health.
The Tobacco Control Act requires that the nine graphic health warnings appear on the upper portion of the front and rear panels of each cigarette package and comprise at least the top 50 percent of these panels.
It also requires that they appear in each cigarette advertisement, and occupy at least 20 percent of the advertisement. For advertisements with a surface area less than 12 square inches, the proposed rule provides a subset of proposed color graphics to accompany the nine textual warning statements.