FDA proposes new graphic packaging for cigarettes

FDA considering graphic warnings on cigarette packages

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - In a proposal announced Thursday, the Food and Drug Administration would put images like a child on a breather, or a scarred chest - photo-realistic and in full color - on advertisements and packaging for cigarettes.

The FDA says the text-based warnings, which have been a part of the packaging for decades, aren’t doing enough.

“Textual health warning statements have long appeared on cigarette packages, but are not adequate today to address the substantial gaps in the public’s knowledge of the health risks of smoking," acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless said.

The proposed images would take up half of the front and back of the cigarette boxes, and almost a quarter of the top of print advertisements.

Some of the symptoms that these images would highlight include bladder cancer, diabetes or conditions that cause blindness.

People that we spoke to were split on the effectiveness of such images, adding that the decision is ultimately up to the smoker.

“If you’re willing to change because you care for your health, then you’ll do it. But if not, then it is what it is," Trina Lam said.

“As for my wife, when they show the pictures of the lady that’s deformed, she doesn’t even turn away, but I know she sees it," Julius Tillman said. “[The photos] couldn’t hurt.”

A representative for Richmond-based Altria, one of the largest tobacco producers in the country, said, “Our approach to the proposed rule will be constructive. We will carefully review the proposed rule and its implications to our businesses and submit comments.”

The FDA says the proposal is open to public comment until mid-October, and it is seeking proposals for alternative text or images.

The FDA’s full announcement can be read here.

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