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Telling the truth about smoking…finally.

Posted by Mark Ryan, MD June 21, 2011 at 11:36 AM

If you have ever seen a pack of cigarettes in the United States, you know that they carry warnings about the health risks people who smoke will face.  However, if you have read the warnings, you know some of them are weak: will the fact that cigarette smoke contains carbon monoxide really make anyone reconsider smoking?  Even the more strongly-worded warnings are usually printed small enough to be easily ignored or overshadowed by the brands’ logos and marketing.  These small warning labels have stood in contrast to the policy in other countries, where warning labels are much larger and much more strongly worded.  For example, Australia has warnings like these (PDF), Canada includes prominent warnings like these, and a number of European nations include the simple warning “Smoking Kills” printed on a label that covers 30% or more of the pack.

Now, the United States is moving to join these other nations in demonstrating in word and in picture just how bad cigarette smoking really can be.  The pictures will be more direct (and, to some, more graphic) in demonstrating the effects of smoking, and the label will take up 50% of the front and rear panels of cigarette packets and at least 20% of any cigarette advertising.

You can see the Food and Drug Administration’s ann0uncement regarding the new labeling changes on its website.  The new images can be seen below: click on the thumbnails to see the full detail of the pictures.

It’s about time we made this step toward improving public and individual health.  It’s about time we made the truth about smoking-related diseases abundantly clear.  Finally, we are telling the truth.

6 Responses to “Telling the truth about smoking…finally.”

  1. Elizabeth Conrad,MD says:

    It should be effective. That is what matters most.

  2. Ned Claxton, MD says:

    Sure hope there’s been some pre-release testing done. Without testing in vulnerable and addicted populations, it’s not clear if the new pix will make us feel like we’re doing something, discourage the potential new user or just make the addicted feel worse.
    We shall see.

  3. John Macy, MD says:

    Since graphic pictures like this have been used in other countries, there must be statistics to see if this helped? If the data supports it, then it should be done.

  4. sharon says:

    I don’t think these have a strong enough message, but you are headed in the right direction.
    God Bless you,

  5. Chris Covert-Bowlds, MD says:

    Photos like these have already been shown to be very effective in Canada and other countries. Keep up the pressure on tobacco companies, and help to help smokers quit. Now we need similar warnings on all tobacco products!

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