June 20 - The U.S Food and Drug Administration will release graphic warning labels for cigarette packages this week, to remind the American public about the dangers of smoking, moving away from the smaller print warnings currently found on cartons. Pavithra George reports.
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Smoking claims at least 400,000 lives in the United States each year and now federal regulators are sending out a strong reminder of the consequence of lighting up ----by putting graphic labels on cigarette cartons.
Designed to cover at least 50 percent of the front and the back of a cigarette pack, the proposed labels include pictures of diseased lungs and rotten gums.
But that's not enough to change the minds of some smokers---who say they know the risks of smoking, but continue anyway.
SOUNDBITE: Maria Villars, smoker, saying (English):
"I mean, I feel bad for people who smoke, but, you have to want to stop smoking yourself, you are not going to stop for anybody else." (REPORTER SAYING: "But you smoke yourself") But that's because I choose to. My father died of cancer, you know, and that hasn't stopped me from smoking."
SOUNDBITE: Emberlea Cox, smoker saying (English):
"I think they are good pictures and they probably may deter some people who are considering smoking. Those of us who already smoke know the risks that we are taking, so, probably will not have any effect on current smokers, I think."
Similar warnings have been used in other countries, but experts say the new labels did not create a measurable drop in smoking rates. Anti-smoking advocate and law professor John Banzhaf says studies show the best way to deter smokers is to hike the cost of their addiction.
SOUNDBITE: Professor John Banzhaf, anti-smoking advocate and law professor at George Washington University, saying (English):
"If Congress increased the tax on cigarettes, either to world-wide levels or to the same percentage we had back in the 50s, before we even knew that smoking was dangerous. We would save 10s of billions in healthcare dollars when people quit. We'd also bring in enormous amounts of revenue to help balance our budget. It's a win-win-win situation."
The new labels will take at least 15 months to start appearing on cigarette boxes.
Pavithra George, Reuters.
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