FDA requiring larger, more striking warnings
Imagine a full-color photograph of a smoker blowing smoke out of a hole in his throat. Picture the corpse of a smoker lying in a casket.
These are some of the images being considered for new oversized warning labels now being proposed by the U.S. governmental agency with jurisdiction over tobacco products.
The images are part of a new rule, requiring larger and more graphically striking health warnings on cigarette packs and in cigarette advertising, that has been issued by the Food and Drug Administration. The new messages will take up half the packaging area on a cigarette pack. Some critics of the new requirements have argued that the warnings are too large, making it difficult to see the brand and other information.
• The FDA will require forceful images on cigarette packs by June 22.
• The FDA is now in the process of choosing the new messages and images.
• The FDA is seeking public comments on the images through Jan. 11.
The new warning labels will also be required on cigarette advertisements, making up a minimum of 20% of the display area of the ad.
The purpose of the warnings is to motivate customers to quit smoking, or to smoke less. That could have an effect on Carolina-Virginia farmers — as the Carolina-Virginia region alone, particularly North Carolina, produces a great majority of the flue-cured tobacco used in cigarettes. Such large and garish warnings have never been used on cigarette packaging and ads in the U.S. but similar images and warnings have been used in a number of countries, including New Zealand, Singapore and others.
The FDA notes that the newly proposed rule is a requirement of legislation known as The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, or Tobacco Control Act.
The agency plans to require one of nine text and graphic messages on each pack of cigarettes. The nine final messages will be selected from a current group of 36 warnings. The FDA will select the final images in June, and the new graphics will be required on packaging by June 22, 2011.
The FDA sought public comment on the newly proposed rule.
This article published in the January, 2011 edition of CAROLINA-VIRGINIA FARMER.