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Federal anti-smoking campaign gets graphic with images of blackened lungs and corpses

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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cigarette, FDAGood news for those who think that anti-smoking warning labels aren’t prominent enough on cigarette packs and cartons (bad news for the squeamish though)—the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will require tobacco companies to include blackened lungs, corpses, crying babies and other disturbing images on their products so that smokers fully understand the risks they’re taking.cigarette, smoking, FDA

The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (Tobacco Control Act), signed into law in June 2009, calls for cigarette packages and advertisements to feature larger and more visible graphic health warnings. The FDA will select nine of 36 proposed images by June 2011 (the public can express their thoughts on the candidate images through January 9, 2011). By the end of September 2012, cigarette makers will be prohibited from manufacturing their tobacco products for sale or distribution in the U.S. without the graphic new health warnings. Instructions for public commenting are available via the FDA’s Web site.FDA, smoking

Tobacco use is the leading cause of premature and preventable death in the United States, responsible for 443,000 deaths each year, according to the U.S. Department Health and Human Services. Further, 30 percent of all cancer deaths are due to tobacco.

FDA,smokingThe labeling requirement is the latest in the government’s well-financed efforts to discourage smoking. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) invested $225 million to support local, state and national efforts to promote tobacco control and expand call centers for people seeking to quit. The Tobacco Control Act also gave the government the ability to restrict tobacco companies’ use of the terms "light," "low" and "mild," and it banned characterizing fruit, candy and spice flavors from cigarettes. Meanwhile, the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA) of 2009 raised the federal cigarette tax by 62 cents per pack.

Images courtesy of the FDA





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  1. 1. Monki 6:52 pm 11/11/2010

    I fear these "cool" graphics will become collectors items. I prefer the approach of the Australian government of plain white packaging with only the brand name in plain type in black across the bottom of the pack. Also cigarettes cannot be displayed down here. I’m all for the nanny state when it protects my health from addicted smokers

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  2. 2. Elegia 5:03 am 11/12/2010

    Eeeyiew. "collector’s items"? Ick. And well yes… non-smokers should be protected from smokers, but what about car & factory fumes & other toxic chemicals vented into the environment by other offenders? Only 30% of cancer deaths are smoking related… Cigarettes are less a smoking gun… erm… stick… er… well, you know… than they are to some extent a red herring. Easy to latch onto the tobacco companies & a cowed minority of smokers & campaign against them, sacrificing them to the paean of purity & wholesomeness. Meanwhile, some of the largest companies in the world pour garbage into the air & water, cars, aeroplanes… overfishing, the death of unicorns… oh, wait. Scratch the last one, but all the others. But let’s stop smokers. What’s wrong with this picture? ;)

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  3. 3. bmo 12:11 pm 11/12/2010

    I saw this in Canada 10 years ago.

    It didn’t deter anyone from smoking.

    The pictures may shock when first viewed, but the shock definitely wears off and people become inured to it.

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  4. 4. Elderlybloke 8:58 pm 11/12/2010

    I have seen real tobacco ravaged lungs ,maybe if others saw the real thing it may induce some to avoid inhaling the nasties in the Cancer Tubes.

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  5. 5. Fabrice LOTY 10:21 am 11/14/2010

    The issue of tobacco is closely linked to the preciousness or sanctity of life.
    Tobacco defiles the body of the smoker (dirt), it threatens health and it causes smokers to endanger still other people.
    It would be cynical to allow people to meet untimely death simply because this will allow others to share common financial and bio resources.
    The issue of pollution is only remotely related to smoking because pollution is harmful side effect of activities designed to produce useful products. Smoking on the other hand is essentially harmful.
    The economic issue would be to transition tobacco companies toward manufacturing other products. It would be interesting to consider products next to tobacco, that is, products able to replace tobacco in the production chain and consumer mind.

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