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FDA’s proposed new cigarette warnings are scary. That’s the point.


(Washington Post) – Black-tinged lungs. A foot with amputated and gangrenous toes. A sickly boy in an oxygen mask.

Those unsettling images are among 13 cigarette health warnings the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released Thursday as part of a proposed rule that would require the graphic images — along with vivid descriptions — to appear on all cigarette packaging. The agency calls it the most “significant change” to labels in 35 years and says its intention is to raise awareness about the consequences of smoking.

“There’s a surprising number of lesser-known risks that both youth and adult smokers and nonsmokers may simply not be aware of, such as bladder cancer, diabetes and conditions that can cause blindness,” FDA Acting Commissioner Norman “Ned” Sharpless said in a news release.

The FDA’s proposed warnings, mandated by the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009, come years after it unsuccessfully sought to require similarly graphic labels. Those were blocked in court by tobacco companies that claimed the warnings violated their First Amendment rights.

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