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    FDA Unveils Grim Cigarette Warning Labels

    Cigarette Packages Will Soon Include Graphic Images of the Effects of Smoking

    Encouraging Smokers to Quit continued...

    She says the president "wants to make tobacco-related death and disease part of the nation's past and not our future."

    Tobacco use is the leading cause of premature and preventable death in the U.S. and is responsible for 443,000 deaths annually, the FDA says. And smoking costs the U.S. economy $200 billion in medical costs and lost productivity annually, according to the FDA.

    Each warning will be accompanied by a smoking-cessation hotline, 800-QUIT-NOW, which may increase the likelihood that smokers who want to give up the habit will be successful.

    FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, MD, says in the news release that the agency is required to provide current and potential smokers with "clear and truthful information" about smoking risks and adds that the new "warnings do that."

    Images Stronger Than Words

    Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association, says in a news release that the new labels will provide "the momentum needed to eradicate tobacco use in our nation."

    The warnings will be more effective than those in the past because of their graphic, frightening nature, she suggests. She also says about a third of smoking-related deaths in the U.S. are linked to heart disease and stroke, and that secondhand smoke kills 49,000 people a year.

    The American Lung Association says in its news release that the graphic labels "will appear on the top 50% of the front and back" of all cigarette packs.

    "While the graphic images displayed on the new warning labels may be disturbing to some, the World Health Organization has concluded that health warnings on tobacco packages increase smokers' awareness of their risk."

    The American Lung Association says the use of graphic depictions of disease "has greater impact than words alone."

    The FDA action comes at a time when federal authorities say the percentage of Americans who smoke has dropped to 20% from nearly 40% since 1970. The FDA predicts the new labels will reduce the number of smokers by 213,000 in 2013.

    The new images can be viewed on the FDA web site.

    What do you think of the new images for cigarette packs? Vote in WebMD's poll and leave your comments.

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