FDA using graphic pictures to discourage smoking

4:24 PM, Jun 21, 2011   |    comments
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Courtesy: FDA

(WZZM) - The government's latest effort to prevent smoking includes graphic warning labels meant to convey the negative effects of tobacco use.

It's the most significant change to U.S. cigarette packs in 25 years. The FDA says it is using graphic pictures to literally scare smokers into quitting.

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States.

In Michigan nearly 19% of residents are smokers - down 14.5% in the last five years. And while the number of smokers nationwide continues to decrease the FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg believes it can make that number go down even further with the new graphic cigarette warning labels,"We want to make a difference and help people who are smoking stop smoking and discourage people who haven't taken up the habit yet."

The labels are graphic. Pictures of yellow teeth and lip cancer, a smoker using his tracheotomy to smoke and an autopsy photo are just a few that will take up nearly half the cigarette package reminding smokers the affects their habit can have on their health,"These graphic warning labels are really intended to reach a wide range of smokers and potential smokers." says Hamburg.

You'll begin seeing these picture warning labels in October of 2012.

The images were chosen from 36 original photos which went through several opinion polls from public and private health care workers, to consumers. The FDA estimates the new labels will cut the number of smokers in half by 2013.

This aggressive approach to cigarette warning labels is something that's been done in other countries for nearly a decade. This new campaign puts the United States on the same level as many others including Canada, Brazil and Iran.

How successful have these campaigns been in other countries?

The Journal of Tobacco Control published a study that found smokers are not fully informed about the risks of smoking and that graphic warnings are more effective cutting down on the number of smokers. In Canada their research showed that over the last decade smoking rates have dropped 5% since it began using the graphic picture warning labels.  

By Valerie Lego

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