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Feds propose graphic cigarette warning labels

Nov 10, 2010 10:27:00 AM - thestate.com
Corpses, cancer patients and diseased lungs: These are some of the images the federal government plans for larger, graphic warning labels for cigarette packages.

The images are part of a new push announced by the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday to reduce tobacco use, which is responsible for about 443,000 deaths per year.

The number of Americans who smoke has fallen dramatically over the past 40 years, but those declines have stalled recently. About 46 million adults in the U.S., or 20.6 percent, smoke cigarettes, along with 19.5 percent of high school students.

The new prevention plan is part of the law passed in June 2009 giving the FDA authority to regulate tobacco, including marketing and labeling guidelines, banning certain products and limiting nicotine. The law doesn't let the FDA ban nicotine or tobacco entirely.

"Today, FDA takes a crucial step toward reducing the tremendous toll of illness and death caused by tobacco use by proposing to dramatically change how cigarette packages and advertising look in this country," FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said in a news release. "The health consequences of smoking will be obvious every time someone picks up a pack of cigarettes."

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