The FDA recently unveiled nine new alarmingly graphic warning labels that will be required to be prominently displayed on every traditional cigarette package beginning September 2012. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius calls cigarette smoking and other tobacco use the number one cause of preventable death. The FDA hopes these disturbing images will finally make tobacco smokers realize the negative effects cigarettes have on them as well as loved ones. Traditional cigarette smoking, as well as other tobacco use, claims over 400,000 lives every year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claims that smoking is responsible for 90% of lung cancer deaths in men, and 80% of lung cancer deaths in women. The CDC also estimates that smoking causes 90% of all chronic obstructive lung disease deaths such as bronchitis and emphysema. These new images will cover half of every traditional cigarette package. They will be displayed on both the front and back of the packages.
The new warning labels will be the first changes the government has made to cigarette packages in over 25 years. R.J. Reynolds and Phillip Morris have already spoken out against the labels in letters written to the FDA. They feel the labels violate the First and Fifth Amendment. The leading manufacturers believe the FDA is telling smokers not to buy their products instead of providing legitimate information about the dangers of smoking. The companies believe the FDA is telling smokers that the risks outweigh the pleasures of their legal products, and that no one should smoke them. Phillip Morris believes that constitutional concerns are raised when the government forces a company to post a message that is not their own. The tobacco companies will be required to shell out the money for these new labels. Thomas Glynn, director of cancer science and trends for the American Cancer Society, states that tobacco related diseases and problems cost about $95 billion a year. The warning labels will also be required to cover 20% of cigarette ads, and will also include the phone number for smokers interested in help kicking the habit.
The United States, by requiring these warnings, will now join 39 other countries who demand these vivid labels. The US is now in compliance with the World Health Organization’s global treaty on tobacco. Although the treaty calls for 35% of a cigarette pack to have warnings and pictures, the United States is hoping their 50% will have a greater impact in deterring smokers.
Smokers who are not quite ready to quit smoking have a chemical free alternative. Electronic cigarettes have taken the world by storm. Thousands have successfully quit, although the devices are not specifically marketed as a cessation product. The e cig does not contain the thousands of carcinogens included in a traditional cigarette. Water vapor, instead of the harmful second hand smoke, is released. Cartridges, which contain various nicotine levels of a smoker’s choice, are attached to the e cig’s battery. However, most companies offer nicotine free cartridges as well. Flavors such as cherry and vanilla are also offered. Electronic cigarettes offer smokers who are addicted to nicotine, as well as those who are addicted to the physical aspects such as simply putting a cigarette to their mouth, a healthier way to enjoy smoking.
Smokers can choose from the many electronic cigarette brands on the market today. They will find many affordable options. Choosing a brand is only a matter of preference. Most companies offer starter kits that include everything needed to being enjoying a vaping experience. Smokers looking to make the switch are encouraged to research e cig brands. E cig users are more than willing to post their opinions about their experiences.
Here are a few of the graphic images from the FDA website: