The Food and Drug Administration hopes that by putting images of diseased lungs, bloody urine, and amputated limbs on cigarette packs, people will think twice before smoking.
Acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless told reporters on Thursday that the agency is proposing a new rule which would require that all cigarette packages and tobacco advertisements feature graphic images warning of the health dangers associated with smoking. The Surgeon General's warning that is now on packaging has become "virtually invisible" to smokers, he said, and while many people think "the harms of smoking are pretty well understood by the public, this is not true."
Sharpless said tobacco use is the No. 1 cause of preventable disease and death in the United States, and the warnings wouldn't just focus on well-known health issues related to smoking, like lung cancer, but also those that fly under the radar, like diabetes and blindness. These graphic images already appear on cigarette packaging in other countries, and the American Lung Association told NPR that research shows having visual warnings on cigarette packing is "effective in preventing children from starting to smoke, and motivating current smokers to quit for good." Catherine Garcia
A lot of things are forbidden by the Islamic State in Syria, but smoking might be the hardest vice for people to quit in a country where it's so widespread — the World Health Organization estimates that about half of all Syrian men and 1 in 10 women are smokers. Very conservative variations of Sharia law consider smoking a dragged out form of suicide, the Los Angeles Times reports, and ISIS has closed down water-pipe cafes and tobacco stores, and punished smokers with at least 40 lashes and sometimes even death.
It's also difficult for ISIS members to kick the habit. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that last month in Al-Mayadeen, the severed head of an ISIS deputy police chief was found with a cigarette between its lips and a note attached to the corpse that read, "This is not permissible, Sheikh." In France, Flavien Moreau returned to his home country after spending just two weeks with ISIS in Syria. He wasn't disturbed by the cruelty and violence, but the lack of cigarettes, France24 says. "I really struggled with not smoking," he said at his trial on terrorism charges. "I had brought Nicorette gum with me, but it wasn't enough. So I left my gun with my [commander] and I left." Catherine Garcia