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US to unveil graphic tobacco warning labels

Washington, June 21, 2011

US health officials on Tuesday will unveil nine graphic warning labels showing harmful effects of smoking that must be on cigarette packages and in advertisements starting in October 2012.

Dead bodies, diseased lungs and a man on a ventilator were among the images for revamped tobacco labels proposed in November under a law that put the multibillion-dollar tobacco industry under the control of the Food and Drug Administration.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg were to announce the new warnings at the White House, administration officials said.

The 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act called for cigarette packages to include warning statements in large type covering half of the front and back of each package and graphic images showing adverse health effects from smoking.

The warnings are also to occupy the top 20 per cent of every tobacco advertisement of companies such as Altria Group Inc's Philip Morris unit, Reynolds American Inc's R.J. Reynolds Tobacco unit and Lorillard Inc's Lorillard Tobacco Co.

The anti-smoking group Campaign for Tobacco Free-Kids said the images represent a dramatic change from current health warnings.

"The current warnings are more than 25 years old, go unnoticed on the side of cigarette packs and fail to effectively communicate the serious health risks of smoking," the group said.

R.J. Reynolds has challenged the legality of mandated larger and graphic warnings in a federal lawsuit.

A 1964 surgeon general's report that linked smoking to lung cancer and other diseases spurred a broad anti-smoking campaign and health warnings on cigarette packages. – Reuters




Tags: US | Tobacco | Washington | cigarette | Warning labels |

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