New and Noteworthy

New and Noteworthy

FDA Warns About the Effects of Smoking by Requiring the Display of Graphic Images on Cigarette Packs

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Starting in September 2012, consumers will be reminded of the health risks of smoking every time they look at a pack of cigarettes. In an effort to persuade people to stop smoking, cigarette companies will be required by law to place shocking images, depicting the effects of smoking, on each package of cigarettes manufactured.

The FDA has selected a set of nine graphic images, one of which will be placed on each pack of cigarettes purchased, in order to effectively communicate the effects of smoking to consumers, says Kara Henschel, spokesperson for the FDA.

According to the FDA website, the nine images convey nine different warnings of the effects of smoking including, addiction, harm to children, lung disease, cancer, stroke and heart disease, harms of smoking during pregnancy, death, dangers of secondhand smoke, and health benefits of deciding to stop smoking now.

“In making its selections, FDA considered the results of its study on the proposed graphic health warnings, the relevant scientific literature, and the public comments it received on the proposed rule,” Henschel says. “FDA also considered the variety and diversity reflected in the images in order to ensure that the final set of graphic health warnings effectively communicates risk information to a diverse range of audiences.”

Henschel says the FDA conducted scientific research to narrow down a larger group of 36 proposed graphic health warnings to the final nine images. A number of factors were measured including consumer reaction, effectiveness of images across various diverse groups of people, ability to communicate the health risks of smoking, and potential to discourage people from smoking.

Working to Get People to Stop Smoking

The new required graphic images will appear on the left half of the front and back of the cigarette packs, Henschel says.

“The new graphic health warnings will clearly and effectively convey the health risks of smoking and provide a critical opportunity to educate consumers about these risks, which will help encourage current smokers to quit, and discourage nonsmokers, including youth, from starting to use cigarettes,” Henschel says.  

The FDA predicts that including these graphic images on cigarette packages will significantly improve the public health by deterring people from smoking, Henschel says.

In its Analysis of Impacts report, the FDA estimates that this regulation will reduce the number of smokers by 213,000 in 2013, with smaller additional reductions through 2031, Henschel says.

The FDA also estimates that these nine graphic images will prevent between 16,544 to 19,687 people from smoking each year, and will save between 1,749 to 5,802 quality-adjusted life-years annually, Henschel says.

Cigarette Advertising Changes to Clearly Display the Effects of Smoking

Henschel says cigarette advertisements will also see some changes as a result of these new regulations. The textual warning statements will be required to appear in English, with two exceptions, Henschel says. 

“First, if an advertisement appears in a non-English language publication, the textual warning statement will be required to appear in the predominant language of that publication,” Henschel says. “Second, if the advertisement appears in an English language publication, but the ad itself is presented in a different language, the textual warning statement will be required to appear in the language principally used in the advertisement.”

Author: Laura Jerpi

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