PRO: New cigarette labels could help smokers quit and prevent people from lighting up

Jan. 2, 2011 at 11:01 p.m.
Updated Jan. 1, 2011 at 7:02 p.m.

Bobby Trevino has attempted to quit smoking cigarettes since he first lit up 38 years ago, at the age of 14.

When it comes to quitting or deterring smoking, Trevino said every little bit helps.

Beginning in 2012, the FDA will require graphic images, like diseased lungs and a man in a coffin, to cover 50 percent of the front and rear panels of each cigarette pack. The images will be accompanied by pointed warnings, like "Smoking can kill you."

"I commend them. It's something," Trevino said. "I think it's good. It reminds us what cancer looks like."

The new law, called The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, was passed after a report on its effectiveness was released in December.

The report showed various images and warnings to a group of people, who were then asked questions about their perceptions of the health risks of smoking and whether they would cease smoking or be likely to initiate smoking in the future.

The study found that, " ... images that evoke the strongest graphic or emotional responses are likely to be most effective in promoting increased awareness of the warnings of the health risks of smoking and in turn promoting behavior change."

Dennis Albrecht, assistant director of the cardiopulmonary department at Citizens Medical Center and head of the hospital's smoking cessation program said based on his experience, he thinks the new labels will lead to a greater awareness of the hazards associated with cigarettes.

"Education is one of the strongest tools we have to prevent children, teens and young adults from beginning a life of smoking," he said in an e-mail. "Hopefully, the warning labels and education will lead a smoker to make a (firm) decision to quit smoking."

Albrecht said he's pleased the new labels address the issue of second-hand smoke. He also mentioned the United States is behind other countries when it comes to graphic and candid cigarette warnings.

"They haven't been modified for the last 25 years or so," he said. "It would be nice if the labels included a number, where smokers could get help on quitting, such as 1-800-QUIT-NOW."

Related story:CON: Labels won't be effective and government is overstepping its boundaries



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