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FDA to Put More Graphic Warnings on Cigarette Packets

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is going to put new, strongly worded warnings on the packets of cigarettes and very graphic pictures for advertisements in a bid to lower the staggering death and disease rates from smoking. These will include a "smoking kills" warning that says:
"More than 1,200 people a day are killed by cigarettes in the United States alone, and 50 percent of all long-term smokers are killed by smoking-related diseases. Tobacco use is the cause of death for nearly one out of every five people in the United States, which adds up to about 443,000 deaths annually."

Next to this message is a gruesome photo of a deceased man with an autopsy scar down his chest.

Other warning messages include messages about the risk of cancer, the risks to children posed by passive smoking, the risks to unborn babies and the risk of death for non-smokers who breathe in cigarette smoke.

A World Health Organization study found that if a consumer noticed warning messages on cigarette packaging, more than half of them would think about quitting smoking.

They think that if the wording is more explicit with graphic pictures that it will have a significant positive impact in helping people become motivated to quit and will save lives, increase life expectancy and reduce the bill that medical services have.

The new warnings will be introduced in September 2012.

Facts about Cigarette Smoking

• Smoking is the leading cause of death in the U.S. and claims almost half a million lives a year.
• Even passive smokers can die from the effects of cigarette smoke.
• Both smoking and passive smoking can cause cancer, cardiovascular disease and respiratory disease.
• Passive smoking is dangerous to children. Pregnant mothers who smoke or who breathe in other people’s smoke are more likely to give birth to a premature baby.
• Babies of smoking parents are at increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
• Children who passive smoke are at increased risk of respiratory diseases like bronchiolitis and asthma. They also have greater risk of ear infections, neurological problems, developmental delay and behavior disorders.
• Children who passive smoke are twice as likely to get meningitis compared with those who have parents who don’t smoke.

To use an interactive tool that shows a cigarette stand with and without the new advertising, see here:

If you would like help to quit smoking, please see your health care provider.

FDA: Cigarette Health Warnings - http://www.fda.gov/TobaccoProducts/Labeling/CigaretteWarningLabels/default.htm

CDC MMWR, May 27, 2011 / 60(20);645-651 - http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6020a2.htm

Objective measurements of nicotine exposure in victims of sudden infant death syndrome and in other unexpected child deaths, J Pediatr. 1998 Aug;133(2):232-6 - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9709711

Lung tissue concentrations of nicotine in sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), The Journal of Pediatrics, Volume 140, Issue 2 , Pages 205-209, February 2002

Developing Asthma in Childhood from Exposure to Secondhand Tobacco Smoke: Insights from a Meta-Regression, Environmental Health Perspectives, October 2007 - http://ehp03.niehs.nih.gov/article/fetchArticle.action?articleURI=info:doi/10.1289/ehp.10155

The role of breastfeeding and passive smoking on the development of severe bronchiolitis in infants, Minerva Pediatr. 2007 Jun;59(3):199-206 - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17519864

Health effects of passive smoking in adolescent children, S Afr Med J. 1996 Feb;86(2):143-7 - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8619139
Secondhand smoke increases risk of invasive meningococcal disease in children, Imperial College London, 8th December 2010 - http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/newsandeventspggrp/imperialcollege/newssummary/news_8-12-2010-9-53-35

Reviewed June 22, 2011
Edited by Alison Stanton

Joanna is a freelance health writer for The Mother magazine and Suite 101 with a column on infertility, http://infertility.suite101.com/. She is author of the book, 'Breast Milk: A Natural Immunization,' and co-author of an educational resource on disabled parenting, in addition to running a charity for people damaged by vaccines or medical mistakes.

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