Many of us are starting to forget what it was like when restaurants had smoking sections and lighting up in all bars was always acceptable. Now you can expect to have a talk with your kids about the time before cigarette packs were covered in disturbing images.
Today the FDA announced its nine picks for the new photo warning labels that will appear on all packs produced after September 2012. The New York Times reports that the images must cover the upper half of the front and back of the pack, and take up 20% of all cigarette advertisements.
Thirty six potential warning labels were released in December following landmark legislation that gave the FDA power to regulate tobacco. In the past few months the government surveyed 18,000 Americans on which labels would be most effective. The ones selected are some of the more graphic options, though we're a bit surprised that the FDA passed up several shots of dead bodies and moms blowing smoke in kids' faces for the bearded man showing off his "I QUIT" shirt.
Naturally, the four biggest tobacco companies are threatening legal action. They say the rule infringes on their property and free-speech rights, and argued in a submission to the FDA that the images are "nonfactual and controversial." Controversial, sure, but haven't we established that "cigarettes cause cancer" and "smoking during pregnancy can harm your baby"?
This is the biggest change to cigarette warning labels in 25 years, and health advocacy groups are praising the new plan. The government estimates that the images will push 213,000 Americans to quit smoking in 2013. However, it seems likely that many smokers will just add theses images to the list of PSAs and warning labels they're already ignoring.