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US cigarette packets to carry shocking health warnings

US cigarette packets to carry shocking health warnings Rotting teeth, cancerous lungs, corpses featured

Rotting gums and cancerous lungs, a stitched-up corpse and a smoker wearing an oxygen mask are just some of the graphic and disturbing images which will adorn cigarette packets in the United States next year.

From September 2012, all cigarette packs sold in the US will have to carry one of nine graphic health warnings showing the dangers of smoking, in a bid to cut down on the number of smokers.

As well as a gruesome image, the new warnings are paired with phrases such as "smoking can kill you," and "cigarettes cause cancer."

One of the health warnings features a mother and child with smoke swirling in the background accompanied by the phrase "tobacco smoke can harm your children."

"These labels are frank, honest and powerful depictions of the health risks of smoking and they will help encourage smokers to quit, and prevent children from smoking,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Each warning will also be accompanied by a stop smoking helpline telephone number.

The US Food and Drug Administration said the warnings represent the most radical change to cigarette labelling in more than 25 years.

By law, the new health warnings must cover half of the front and back of all cigarette packs, and take up at least 20 per cent of all other types of cigarette advertising.

Around 440,000 people die in the US every year from tobacco-related diseases, making it the single biggest cause of premature and preventable death in the country. A third of all cancer deaths in the US are also due to tobacco.

Although the proportion of smokers in the US has fallen dramatically from the 1970s when around 40 per cent of Americans smoked, the amount of adult smokers has remained at 20 per cent for several years.

In the UK, the government mandated that tobacco displays must be kept out of sight in large stores in England from 2012 and all other shops from 2015.

This article was published on Wed 22 June 2011

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