The US can be the next country to depict graphic cigarette warnings

The US has decided to put graphic images of the consequences of smoking. In many other countries, this practice has become common whereas the US has still survived the cleaner packets of a cigarette without any disturbing images of cancers, tumors, etc. Though such a proposal was placed by the FDA nine years ago, the same did not find any application on the ground of freedom of speech. The US never changed the labels on cigarette packets since 1984. Inclusion of these images would be first alterations ever since.

If all goes well and the Food and Drug Administration manage to get the approval, the images would be featured on the cigarette packets from 2021. 

FDA’s Proposal

According to Ned Sharples, the acting FDA commissioner, many of the smokers are not aware of the extent of the threat that smoking possesses. Though mostly we think that everyone knows the risks associated with smoking, it is not the case all the times.

If approved, the color images of the photo-realistic kind would be present on the front and the back panel of the packets. The cigarette advertisements will also carry these images covering 20%of the total area.

Mitchell Zeller from FDA’s tobacco division further added that these images would be helpful in enhancing public awareness about the possible harms of smoking.

The first set of warning appeared on the cigarette packets in the year 1966 and the last updating was done in 1984. Ever since there have been no changes for these 35 years. Being void of any images and negligible in size, these warnings have mostly skipped the attention of the smokers.

According to surveys, around 480,000 people die of tobacco consumption every year in America which is more than the number of deaths caused by HIV, alcohol consumption and accidents. Thus, FDA is expecting an effective increase in the awareness level after introducing these images.

Warnings in other countries

Canada can be crowned as the pioneer of this anti-smoking crusade. Canada introduced these graphic images on the cigarette packets long before any other country even thought of it. Currently, 91 countries use these images as a mandate. As time passed, many countries joined the mission and most of the countries today have the cigarette packets marked with images which can repel any person from consuming one.

However, the toughest variety of restriction was levied by Australia in the year 2012. Australia simply negated the use of any advertisements, logo, brand mentions and colors on the cigarette packets.

US’ Late Response to the Trend

It is not the first time attempt on the part of the US to include graphic images on cigarette packets. In 2011, the FDA expressed the need for such actions. But the idea failed to gain the approval of the court on the ground of free speech protection law.

According to the Tobacco Control Act, FDA has the authority to suggest amendments to protect public health. However, the gulf between the administration and the FDA has obstructed the process immensely so far. This time, FDA has taken a more scientific approach which, if approved, Americans would buy a pack of the cigarette with graphic images depicted o them.