Did you know that smoking could kill you? The U.S. government wants to make it even more exceedingly clear with new "bolder" warnings on cigarette ads and cigarette packs. The Food and Drug Administration unveiled 36 proposed images that the public can consider through January 9, 2011. The new, sometimes gross warnings, if accepted, would be the most significant change to tobacco warning labels in 25 years.
The public is being asked to consider the new proposed cigarette warnings. If the plan moves forward, the FDA will select nine statements and images to be used no later than June 22, 2011. The new images are available at the FDA's website. The new rules would take effect by October 22, 2012.
"This is the most important change in cigarette health warnings in the history of the United States," said Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, The New York Times reports.
Approximately 450,000 Americans die due to smoking-related diseases every year and 8 million more suffer serious disease, costing the $100 billion annually.
"When the rule takes effect, the health consequences of smoking will be obvious every time someone picks up a pack of cigarettes," FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said.
Public health officials are hoping that the new cigarette warnings will make a significant impact. U.S. anti-smoking efforts have been less successful in recent years. About 20% of U.S. adults smoke as well as nearly 20% of high school students.
"The evidence is that graphic labels do make a difference in enticing smokers to stop smoking," said Dr. Richard Hurt, director of the Nicotine Dependence Center at the Mayo Clinic. But he also believes that cigarette makers will come up with a way to reduce the impact of the new labels.
It's all part of an ongoing cat and mouse game between health advocates and the powerful cigarette companies.