Washington, DC -- A leading researcher in the harms of tobacco use says warnings proposed today by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for cigarette packaging are a very important part of cancer control and have been long needed. Peter Shields, MD, is deputy director of the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, a part of Georgetown University Medical Center. He says the U.S. has lagged behind other countries in requiring bolder warning on cigarette packs.
“The current warnings clearly do not work given the number of people taking-up smoking and those who continue smoking,” says Shields. “Similar warnings like the one the HHS proposes are already in use in other countries and are believed to be effective. These warnings are an important part of a preventing and reducing cigarette smoking. They are long overdue.”
HHS proposed the new health warnings and graphics for cigarette packages and advertisements today. The HHS says the change is part of a strategy that “will help tobacco users quit and prevent children from starting” calling it the “most significant change in more than 25 years.”
“Every day, almost 4,000 youth try a cigarette for the first time and 1,000 youth become regular, daily smokers,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a press release issued Wednesday. “Today marks an important milestone in protecting our children and the health of the American public.”
The HHS’ proposes new larger and more noticeable warning statements and color graphic images depicting the negative health consequences of smoking appear on cigarette packages and in cigarette advertisements. By June 22, 2011, the Food and Drug Administration will select nine graphic and textual warning statements after a comprehensive review of the relevant scientific literature, the public comments, and results from an 18,000 person study. Implementation required by September 22, 2012 will ultimately prohibit companies from manufacturing cigarettes without new graphic health warnings on their packages for sale or distribution in the United States. In addition, manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers will no longer be allowed to advertise cigarettes without the new graphic health warnings in the United States. By October 22, 2012, manufacturers can no longer distribute cigarettes for sale in the United States that do not display the new graphic health warnings.
Peter Shields is available to comment on today’s proposed warning for cigarette packages and advertisements. To arrange an interview, please contact Karen Mallet at km463(at)Georgetown.edu.
Read more about the HHS proposal at http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2010pres/11/20101110a.html .
About Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center
Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of Georgetown University Medical Center and Georgetown University Hospital, seeks to improve the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of cancer through innovative basic and clinical research, patient care, community education and outreach, and the training of cancer specialists of the future. Lombardi is one of only 40 comprehensive cancer centers in the nation, as designated by the National Cancer Institute, and the only one in the Washington, DC, area. For more information, go to http://lombardi.georgetown.edu.
About Georgetown University Medical Center
Georgetown University Medical Center is an internationally recognized academic medical center with a three-part mission of research, teaching and patient care (through MedStar Health). GUMC’s mission is carried out with a strong emphasis on public service and a dedication to the Catholic, Jesuit principle of cura personalis -- or "care of the whole person." The Medical Center includes the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing and Health Studies, both nationally ranked, the world-renowned Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Biomedical Graduate Research Organization (BGRO). In fiscal year 2009-2010, GUMC accounted for 79 percent of Georgetown University's extramural research funding.