FDA modifies smoking warning

By Amanda Lowrance

On September 22, 2012, nine new graphic warning labels, released by the United States Food and Drug Administration, will brand the package of cigarettes to encourage smokers to quit.

After 25 years of the Surgeon General’s warning, “Smoking causes lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema, and may complicate pregnancy,” the FDA proposed a new idea.

They are simply on a mission to reduce the number of smokers, save lives, increase life expectancy, and lower medical costs.

In November of 2010, the FDA proposed images and the rule for public comment, receiving 1,700 comments. 

Last month the FDA announced the nine new warnings and made the final rule that requires the warnings on cigarette packages and advertisements.

The new images become permanent on October 22. 2012 or manufacturers cannot sell cigarettes.

According to the FDA the use of tobacco claims about 0.5 million lives each year and is the leading cause of premature and preventable death in the U.S.

This will shed a real-life perspective on the effects of smoking, and smokers will be reminded of the negative health issues every time they pick up a pack of cigarettes.

“My mama died of lung cancer,” said Dr. Timothy Linder. “I can’t think of anything good to say about cigarettes. It’s highly addictive and people that have been smoking for a long time are truly addicted.” 

Linder has patients that are smokers, but they seem to be in denial about the effects it has on their health.

“It says on the package smoking will kill you,” said Linder. “The best way to cut back on smoking is to keep raising taxes on cigarettes. Anything we can do to show a negative connotation on smoking is a good thing to do. At least it’s another hoop they jump through.”

The FDA made a selection narrowing the graphic images to nine that deemed fit to aid tobacco users to quit and prevent others from starting.

These images will be on the top half of the front and back of a pack of cigarettes and send messages such as “Cigarettes are addictive,” with a picture of a man smoking a cigarette with a tracheotomy hole in his neck.

Another says tobacco smoke can harm your children with a photo of a parent holding an infant.

The next image depicts a warning that cigarettes cause fatal lung disease with a gory photo of ideal, healthy lungs next to lungs that have suffered the disease.

The “Cigarettes can cause cancer” warning has a photo of a disgusting mouth with stained teeth and lip sores.

A business man gives a death gaze toward the roof with a breathing apparatus on his face and the message here is that cigarettes cause strokes and heart disease.

One image targets mothers-to-be and why they should not smoke because smoking harms the baby even during pregnancy. A baby cries inside of an incubator with a breathing tube going inside the nose.

“Smoking can kill you” has a man lying dead with an incision and staples in his chest from surgery.

A nonsmoker cries holding the side of her face and the warning reads “Tobacco smoke causes fatal lung disease in nonsmokers.”

The final release is much more positive. It is a depiction of a man holding open his button shirt to reveal a t-shirt underneath that says “I QUIT” and sends the message that quitting greatly reduces serious risks to your health.

Linder states that it would be good but hard to raise taxes anymore in Tennessee because it is a tobacco-growing state. Another suggestion is to raise the age to purchase cigarettes to 21.

Reduced sales on tobacco products may be exaggerated in Selmer according to local manufacturers.

“Truthfully, I don’t think it going to make a difference at all,” said Selmer BP manager, Tim Hurst. “If people are going to smoke, they are going to smoke”

“It won’t affect sales at all,” said Jim’s Best Stop Jason Speth. “It’s a draw to have people come in, but it’s second lowest margin next to lottery.”