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FDA wants more tobacco warnings

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said on Nov 10 the government is going to add more textual and graphic warnings about smoking cigarettes or tobacco use in cigarette packages and advertisements to help more people quit smoking or not start smoking.

The Food and Drug Administration, an agency under the department of health, proposed nine new larger and more noticeable textual warning statements and color graphic images associated with the negative health consequences of smoking appear on cigarette packages and in cigarette advertisements. The textual warnings include the following.

WARNING:  Cigarettes are addictive.
WARNING:  Tobacco smoke can harm your children.
WARNING:  Cigarettes cause fatal lung disease.
WARNING:  Cigarettes cause cancer.
WARNING:  Cigarettes cause strokes and heart disease.
WARNING:  Smoking during pregnancy can harm your baby.
WARNING:  Smoking can kill you.
WARNING:  Tobacco smoke causes fatal lung disease in nonsmokers.
WARNING:  Quitting smoking now greatly reduces serious risks to your health.

The health department said tobacco use is the most preventable cause of premature and preventable deaths in the United States. It kills 443,000 deaths each year and cause 30 percent of all cancer deaths. 

"Every day, almost 4,000 youth try a cigarette for the first time and 1,000 youth become regular, daily smokers," said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "Today marks an important milestone in protecting our children and the health of the American public."

The FDA on its website is seeking comments on 36 proposed warning images from the public from Friday, November 12, 2010 through Tuesday, January 11, 2011.

The timeline for implementation of the final tobacco control rule is as follows.

- January 9, 2011, the public comments discontinues;

- June 22, 2011, the FDA will pick the final nine graphic and textual warning statements based on a review of scientific literature and public comments.

- September 22, 2012, tobacco companies will no longer be allowed to make cigarettes without new graphic health warnings on the packages for sale or distribution in the United States. Business entities including manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers will no longer be allowed to advertise tobacco products without the new graphic health warnings in the U.S.

- October 22, 2012, tobacco manufacturers can no longer distribute cigarettes for sale in the country if the products did not carry the new graphic risk warnings.

"When the rule takes effect, the health consequences of smoking will be obvious every time someone picks up a pack of cigarettes," said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D.

According to the department of health, a few other recent tobacco control and prevention measures were announced on Nov 9.

1, The Affordable Care Act gives insured Americans access to recommended preventive care, like tobacco cessation free of charge;

2, The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) invested $225 million at local, state and national levels to promote comprehensive tobacco control and expand tobacco quitlines;

3, The Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act (PACT) aims to prevent the illegal sale of tobacco products over the Internet and through mail order, including the illegal sale to youth.

4, The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (FSPTCA) gives FDA the authority to regulate tobacco products.  

5, The Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA) raised the federal cigarette tax by 62 cents per pack in an effort to prevent more children from smoking.

Tobacco death trap

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tobacco use causes more deaths than human immunodeficiency virus or HIV, illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor venicle injuries, suicides and murder combined.

Smoking cigarettes, pipes, cigars, using smokeless tobacco have all been linked with increased risk of drying from cancers of the lung, esophageal, larynx and oral cavity.

Cigarette smoking is responsible for about 20 percent of all deaths in the United states each year. Specifically, smoking kills 443,000 people each year in the country and secondhand smoke kills 49,400.

Adults who smoke cigarettes die 14 years earlier than those who do not smoke.

Smoking cigarettes can cause all types of diseases

Smoking cigarettes can cause more than lung cancer and other cancers.  Studies suggest that smoking tobacco products can increase risk of the diseases including Emphysema, bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, coronary artery disease, peripheral artery disease, colorectal cancer, liver cancer, prostate cancer, erectile dysfunction in men, stomach cancer, bladder and kidney cancer, abdominal aortic aneurysm, acute myeloid leukemia, cataracts, cervical cancer, kidney cancer, pancreatic cancer, periodontitis and pneumonia.

By Jimmy Downs