The United States has been lagging behind other countries with regards to cigarette warnings. In fact, the FDA has not updated cigarette pack warnings for over 30 years, since 1984.
As of November 2017, prime-time US tv has been featuring court-mandated adverts against smoking. These segments are funded by Altria group which owns Philip Morris USA, and British American Tobacco PLC (BAT), and came as a result of a lawsuit against the companies, which also forced the same companies to release anti-smoking warnings on their websites.
Finally, last Summer the FDA proposed a new regulation requiring tobacco companies to place new graphic health warnings on cigarette packages and adverts. The new warnings carry messages such as “Smoking reduces blood flow to the limbs, which can require amputation,” and “Smoking causes bladder cancer, which can lead to bloody urine.”
New warnings will occupy 50% of the pack area
“The 11 finalized cigarette health warnings represent the most significant change to cigarette labels in more than 35 years and will considerably increase public awareness of lesser-known, but serious negative health consequences of cigarette smoking,” said director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, Mitch Zeller.
“Research shows that the current warnings on cigarettes, which have not changed since 1984, have become virtually invisible to both smokers and nonsmokers, in part because of their small size, location and lack of an image. Additionally, research shows substantial gaps remain in the public’s knowledge of the harms of cigarette smoking, and smokers have misinformation about cigarettes and their negative health effects.”
The proposed warnings feature color images and describe the health risks of smoking. “Smoking reduces blood flow to the limbs, which can require amputation,” and “Smoking causes bladder cancer, which can lead to bloody urine,” read two of the warnings.
US health entities support the measure
Several health entities including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Cancer Society, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and the Truth Initiative wrote in support of the measure.
“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today has taken a critical and long-overdue step forward in the nation’s battle against tobacco use — the number one cause of preventable death,” read part of the statement. “The new warnings show and tell the truth about the deadly consequences of smoking and will promote greater public understanding of the many ways in which smoking harms the human body.”
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