They are shocking. They are grizzly. And they are going to start showing up -- big and in full-color -- on cigarette packages if the FDA's proposal for new tobacco warning labels is approved.
The proposed new "bolder" warning labels, bearing attention-grabbing headings like, "WARNING: Cigarettes cause fatal lung disease," and "WARNING: Smoking can kill you," are an integral part of the Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) new comprehensive tobacco control strategy to help tobacco users quit and prevent children from starting.
According to the HHS, the new warning labels satisfy a requirement of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act for larger and more noticeable textual warning statements and color graphic images depicting the negative health consequences of smoking on cigarette packages and in cigarette advertisements.
The proposed regulation requiring the new labels, Required Warnings for Cigarette Packages and Advertisements, will be open for public comment through January 9, 2011. By June 22, 2011, FDA will select the final nine graphic and textual warning statements and by October 22, 2012, manufacturers will be required to display the new labels on cigarette packages sold in the United States.
"We are at an unprecedented time in our nation's history to protect the public's health from tobacco use, the leading cause of preventable, premature death in the United States," said Assistant Secretary for Health Howard K. Koh, M.D., MPH in a press release. "It will take renewed commitment from every sector of society to end the tobacco epidemic."