U.S. unveils graphic tobacco warnings

Wed Nov 10, 2010 1:05pm EST
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By Jon Lentz and Emily Stephenson

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Diseased lungs, dead bodies, a man on a ventilator and mothers blowing smoke in their children's faces are among the images U.S. health officials are considering in their effort to revamp tobacco warning labels.

The "graphic health warnings," unveiled on Wednesday, aim to depict the negative effects of smoking, and they will be required on all cigarette packages and advertisements as of October 2012.

The FDA will accept comments on its proposed warnings until January 9. In June, the agency will choose nine graphic images from the 36 it has proposed.

More prominent warnings on cigarette packages, including larger text labels, were mandated in a June 2009 law putting the multibillion-dollar tobacco industry under the control of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The proposal offers the most significant and important change in public health warnings since the release of the surgeon general's landmark report on smoking in the 1960s, said Matt Myers, president of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

"These warnings are based on the best evidence about how to raise awareness and concern about the health effects of smoking with at-risk youth and smokers thinking about quitting," Myers said.

A 1964 surgeon general's report concluded that smoking was linked to lung cancer and other diseases, spurring a broad anti-smoking campaign and new health warnings on cigarette packages.

The 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act called for cigarette packages to include new warning statements in large type covering half of the front and back of each package and graphic images showing adverse health effects from smoking. The warnings will also occupy the top 20 percent of every tobacco advertisement.   Continued...

<p>FDA Proposed Graphic Health Warnings for Cigarettes. REUTERS/FDA/Handout</p>