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FDA unveils new 'graphic health warnings' for cigarette packs

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If $12 packs weren’t enough to make smokers quit, maybe some scary images will be, federal officials are hoping.

Yesterday, the FDA approved replacing the current text warnings on cigarette packs with grisly images of dead bodies, diseased lungs and sick children.

The new “graphic health warnings” will be required on all cigarette packs and advertisements by October 2012, marking the biggest change in pack warnings since the Surgeon General’s warning debuted in 1965.

“For the first time ever, [the packs] will say that tobacco products are addictive, and they will say in the bluntest of terms that tobacco can kill,” FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said.

Thirty-six images are up for public comment through January, and the agency will select nine images to use by June. The new warnings will cover the top half of every side of cigarette packs, and at least 20 percent of every tobacco advertisement.

The agency estimated that about 443,000 deaths per year are caused by smoking. About 21 percent of American adults smoke, and almost 20 percent of high schoolers have taken up deadly habit, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

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