US unveils graphic cigarette warnings
Washington: The US government on Tuesday unveiled a new set of cigarette warnings with graphic images of a lifeless body, a scarred mouth and a blackened lung in order to highlight the health risks of smoking.
"Beginning September 2012, FDA will require larger, more prominent cigarette health warnings on all cigarette packaging and advertisements in the United States," the US Food and Drug Administration said on its website.
The warnings, which can be seen at fda.gov/cigarette warnings, mark the first change in cigarette warnings in more than 25 years and are "a significant advancement in communicating the dangers of smoking," the agency added.
One of the images, which shows an apparently dead man with his chest sewn up, bears the caption "Warning: Smoking can kill you." According to the FDA, smoking kills 1,200 people a day in the United States alone.
Another picture shows a close-up on a mouth filled with scattered, brown teeth and a lip with an open sore, warning: "Cigarettes cause cancer."
Smoking causes 90 percent of all lung cancer in men and 80 percent in women, and has been linked to several other cancers, according to the FDA.
The new warnings also seek to warn pregnant women and new parents of the dangers of smoking, with a drawn image showing a premature baby in a hospital incubator and a picture showing a real baby staring at a plume of smoke.
The warnings will occupy the top 50 percent of the front and rear panels of cigarette packs and the top 20 percent of cigarette advertisements.
"The introduction of these warnings is expected to have a significant public health impact by decreasing the number of smokers, resulting in lives saved, increased life expectancy, and lower medical costs," the website said.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is to formally announce the new warnings later on Tuesday.