November 15, 2010
Imagine that someone is in danger, but for whatever reason is heedless to warning. It would be wrong to walk away; you'd look for better ways to get the message across. That simple but sound principle is behind the federal government's commendable decision to require new, bigger - and more graphic - warning labels on cigarette packs.
Last week, armed with new power to regulate tobacco products, federal officials unveiled proposed warning labels for cigarette packs marketed in the United States. Many of the images are disturbing. Instead of the modest and by now familiar surgeon general's warning, the new labels use coffins, diseased lungs and rotting teeth to drive home the health effects of tobacco. The language makes clear that cigarettes are addictive; cause cancer, heart disease and strokes; harm children; and "can kill you."
The Food and Drug Administration will survey smokers, hear public comment and listen to experts in winnowing the 36 proposals to the nine deemed to have the best chance of deterring smoking.