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Some cigarette warnings more subtle than others

November 14, 2010
Morning Journal News

Just in time for the 35th Great American Smokeout, the Food and Drug Administration has unveiled 36 graphic images showing the dangers of smoking that it is considering placing as warnings on cigarette packs and advertisements.

The images were posted on the Internet and the public is allowed to comment on them until Jan. 9.

The proposed warnings pull no punches. Along with written warnings, one of the pictures features a corpse with a toe tag, another has a corpse with an incision in the middle of its chest, and others show such things as a cancer victim wasting away. There are also photos showing various human body parts that are diseased with cancer linked to smoking as well as warnings of the hazardous effects of smoking during pregnancy.

Too harsh? Definitely not. Warnings have been on cigarette packages in the United States for 25 years, but despite this an estimated 4,000 young people smoke their first cigarette each day, and 1,000 of them will become daily smokers, according to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Sebelius says she hopes the new warnings, which must be in place by Sept. 12, 2012, will stop young people from picking up their first cigarette and give current smokers the incentive to quit.

While the warnings and their goals sound like a good idea, it's doubtful they will do much to convince the hard-core smokers in our society to quit. Why? Because nicotine is a powerfully addictive drug that makes kicking the habit very difficult.

The American Cancer Society has been warning people about the hazardous effects of smoking for more than four decades. While giving up the nicotine habit is tough, by quitting now, regardless of how long you have smoked or how old you are, you can still reap the health benefits of being a non-smoker.

"No matter how old you are or how long you've used tobacco, quitting can help you live longer and be healthier," according to Al Stabilito, the cancer society's Northeast Ohio public relations director.

The Centers for Disease Control says smoking accounts for an estimated 443,000 premature deaths each year and costs the United States $193 billion in health care expenditures and productivity losses.

The Great American Smokeout, sponsored by the American Cancer Society, is held the Thursday before Thanksgiving each year to encourage smokers to quit for just that day, with the hope that those who stop for one day might be encouraged to quit permanently.

So if you're a smoker, why wait almost two years until the new warnings come out to scare you into joining the non-smoking ranks. Thursday sounds like a good day to snuff out the smokes,, and who knows, maybe you'll want to stay smoke-free on Friday and the next day and the next...



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