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Graphic warnings for smokers

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - 4:36pm

It'll be difficult for smokers to ignore graphic new warning labels that will be placed on every cigarette pack starting next year.

Smoke blowing out of a tracheotomy opening in the throat, a disfigured mouth with tar-stained teeth and other startling images will fill the top half of all new cigarette packaging starting in fall 2012.

The Food and Drug Administration has selected nine new full-color warning labels.

They're a far cry from the old Surgeon General's warning, which was much smaller and on just one side.

Smoking rates had declined since the 1970s, then leveled off in the last five years.

"We know that people started to ignore the earlier warnings. This is the first change in the cigarette label in 25 years," says FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg.

The top tobacco companies had no new comments tuesday.

In documents sent to the FDA last year, several manufacturers stated the images did not educate, but instead were "intended to elicit loathing, disgust, and repulsion".

Public health groups say they hope the graphics will deter kids from picking up the habit.

Previous research has shown graphic warnings will at least get smokers to consider quitting, the first step to snuffing out tobacco for good.

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