Corpses, cancer patients and diseased lungs are some of images the federal government plans for larger, graphic warning labels for cigarette packages. These images are part of a proposal by the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services to reduce tobacco use, which is responsible for about 443,000 deaths per year. The pictures will be "designed to shock," meaning that "they won’t just say smoking can kill you.” Officials want to make sure everyone knows the risks before picking up a pack of cigarettes.
Such images have proved effective in more than 30 countries. Why is it that the United States was the first to require warning labels on cigarettes, yet we are one of the last to carry graphic depictions of the consequences from smoking? Will these photos prevent new smoking habits or help existing smokers quit? There are thirty-six proposed graphic images that will accompany current messages defined under the Tobacco Control Act. If approved, the proposal will be effective September 2012.
Why this latest push? The number Americans who smoke have fallen dramatically over the past 40 years, but recently that decline has diminished. The FDA has the authority to regulate tobacco, including marketing and labeling guidelines, banning certain products and limiting nicotine, but it cannot ban nicotine or tobacco entirely. This proposal will be a crucial step toward reducing thousands of illnesses and death caused by tobacco use.
The new warning labels will be like a billboard on each cigarette pack – taking up half of a pack – both front and back with “color graphics depicting the negative health consequences.” Warning labels also must constitute 20 percent of advertisements.
While it is impossible to say how many people will quit or not begin to smoke, officials believe the proposal will be a positive influence based on the results from other countries, and given the size of the U.S., the results could be significant. Since smoking and the effects of smoking are one of our country’s greatest health hazards, hopefully this effort will have the desired effect. What do you think?
Mark Bello has thirty-three years experience as a trial lawyer and twelve years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide legal finance cash flow solutions and consulting when necessities of life litigation funding is required by a plaintiff involved in a pending, personal injury lawsuit. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Business Associate of the Florida, Tennessee, and Colorado Associations for Justice, a member of the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series—Mark Bello is also the CEO of Lawsuit Financial and the country’s leading expert in providing non-recourse lawsuit funding to plaintiffs involved in pending litigation. He is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.