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Butts-300x199 CMCH staff contributed the following post to Thriving, Children's Hospital Boston's pediatric health blog, in response to questions about how the FDA's newly released requirements for cigarette packaging might affect kids.

Q: Will new, graphic tobacco health warnings affect kids?

A: Last week, the FDA released new requirements for labels on cigarette packaging, which will take effect next September. The nine new health warning labels portray the health effects of smoking through text and full-color graphics, like one that compares a healthy set of lungs with a diseased set of lungs and reads, “Cigarettes cause fatal lung disease.” According to the FDA, these labels are intended to “increase awareness of the specific health risks associated with smoking”, “encourage smokers to quit”, and “empower youth to say no to tobacco.”

These warnings could have positive results. By placing graphic health warnings so prominently in cigarette advertisements (they must take up 20% of the ad) and packaging (they must take up 50% of the front and back), the changes will reduce kids’ exposure to actual cigarette advertising, which influences their decision to use tobacco.

The images were selected based on research into that would be most effective for youth, young adults, and adults. This research focused on how well the images conveyed the intended message and on whether they encouraged viewers to stop smoking. The hope is that they will do both of those things. But will these grisly pictures affect kids in the way they are intended to?

It’s hard to say for sure because fear can be a double-edged sword. Continue reading here.

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