In language drafted by the U.S. Surgeon General, warning labels on cigarettes have proclaimed for decades that smoking is bad for your health.
Now, under recently unveiled warning labels proposed by the U.S. Federal Food & Drug Administration (FDA), that language and accompanying imagery is getting more graphic.
With slogans such as “Cigarettes Can Kill You" and “Cigarettes Cause Fatal Lung Disease,” the proposed warning labels take a much more aggressive stance against the dangers of tobacco.
The proposed FDA warnings show pictures of corpses, coffins, grave stones, mouth sores, people smoking through holes in their throats, and people dying of cancer. Some are actual pictures, while others are less-graphic icons. Some even include cartoons, despite the fact the FDA has fought the use of cartoon characters in advertising by tobacco companies.
If the warnings are approved, they would be present on every pack of cigarettes sold in the United States by June 22, 2011. The same law that says tobacco companies must adhere to the new warnings also mandates that the same warnings occupy at least 20 percent of any tobacco-related advertisement.
The effort extends the FDA's fight to alert public to the dangers of tobacco use, which is linked to about 443,000 deaths a year.
Besides lung cancer, smoking has been associated with an increased liklihood of numerous health problems, including (but not limited to) heart disease, heart attack, stroke, birth defects, premature aging, psoriasis, and erectile dysfunction.
A recent study shows that heavy smoking—more than two packs a day—during middle age can double the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia in 20 years.
However, studies have shown that the health benefits of quitting smoking can be felt immediately and nearly completely reversible if a person quits smoking before the age of 35.
The 36 proposed warnings, dictated under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, are currently open for public review. After the review process, the FDA will consult scientific studies along with the public comments to see what are the most effective in curbing people away from tobacco products.
The first warning label on cigarettes came in 1956. It stated simply, “Cigarettes may be hazardous to your health.” Since then, there has been consistent debate whether or not the warnings have curbed people from smoking.
Major tobacco corporations have banded together to file a federal lawsuit to challenge the law that mandates the new labels. Their contention is that the ads would be so big it would be difficult to see the name brand of the cigarettes on the packaging.
See all of the proposed warning labels on the FDA’s website at www.fda.gov/TobaccoProducts/Labeling.
Want to quit smoking? Visit Healthline’s Smoking Cessation Learning Center for helpful information.