The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is getting ready to update its warning labels on cigarette packs for the first time since the 1980s.
The new labels come with graphic images of the health hazards posed by smoking and, says Danny McGoldrick of the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, a Washington-based anti-smoking group, are much larger than current labels.
The FDA is now soliciting comments from the public on its Web site for the new labels. But it took 10 years of scientific research and non-stop pressure by groups like McGoldrick’s to get the United States to join the 45 other countries that mandate similar warnings.
McGoldrick said that the new labels won’t appear on cigarette packs until late 2012 and are part of a long battle that ended with the signing of Tobacco Control Act by President Barack Obama in 2009.
There have been warning labels on cigarettes for decades. But they are not as graphic. Said McGoldrick:
“One reason it’s so important is not only does it command these new and graphic warning labels, but it gives the Food and Drug Administration the flexible authority to revise those warning labels moving forward. As the science develops in terms of the damage caused by tobacco, if there are new things to educate smokers and potential smokers about, or if we learn how better to communicate with smokers, the FDA can do that through the rule-making process rather than through an act of Congress.”