The Department of Health and Human Services has unveiled its plan for placing new warnings on cigarette packs -- and it sure isn't pretty. Included are graphic images of dead bodies, cancer patients and diseased lungs, all intended to depict the health risks of smoking.
The strong images
are part of a requirement of the Family Smoking Prevention
and Tobacco Control Act. In a statement
, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius noted that each day nearly 4,000 youths try a cigarette for the first time and 1,000 become regular smokers. Tobacco causes 443,000 deaths each year and one-third of all cancer deaths.
The images, which will cover half of the cigarette pack, will be accompanied by such warnings as "Cigarettes cause fatal lung disease" (shown with the picture of the feet of a dead body in a morgue) and "Tobacco smoke causes fatal lung disease in nonsmokers" (a photo of a highly distraught woman).
The HHS called the new warnings "the most significant change in more than 25 years" in cigarette packaging and advertising.
The Food and Drug Administration will gather public comment on 36 proposed images until Jan. 9, 2011, then select nine final warning statements and images by June 22, 2011. The regulation will go into effect Sept. 22, 2012.
"Today, FDA takes a crucial step toward reducing the tremendous toll of illness and death caused by tobacco use by proposing to dramatically change how cigarette packages and advertising look in this country," FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg said in a statement. "When the rule takes effect, the health consequences of smoking will be obvious every time someone picks up a pack of cigarettes."