Pediatricians sue government to force more graphic warnings on cigarette packs

Three Massachusetts pediatricians and groups representing pediatricians across the state and the country say the FDA is dragging its feet complying with a 2009 federal law requiring cigarette makers put graphic images of the effects of smoking on their products - and are hoping a lawsuit might spur some action.

The doctors, who include Dr. Jonathan Winickoff of Mass. General and Harvard Medical School, and the American Academy of Pediatrics - along with groups such as the American Cancer Society and the American Lung Association - acknowledge a federal appeals court ruled the FDA's initial effort to put the images on cigarettes violated the First Amendment.

But in a lawsuit filed yesterday in US District Court in Boston, the doctors and groups say the appeals court ruling only means the FDA should try other methods to comply with the 2009 law.

The decision invalidating the specific warning labels specified in the 2011 Rule in no way suggested that every rule mandating graphic warnings would be unconstitutional or that the FDA is without power to comply with its statutory obligation to promulgate constitutionally permissible graphic warning label requirements under Section 201. In fact, during the course of the litigation, the tobacco industry plaintiffs conceded that different graphic warnings label requirements could be constitutional.

The lawsuit says evidence both here and in countries that graphically show the effects of smoking on cigarette packs shows they can help ward off teen smoking:

In the course of his practice, Dr. Winickoff routinely counsels patients between the ages of 10 and 21 and their parents regarding the long-term health consequences of smoking. The attitudes of these patients about using tobacco products are greatly influenced by the pervasive advertising of tobacco products and the labeling of cigarette packs by manufacturers to make the pack convey positive information about the product. The nearly invisible warnings currently required on cigarette packs do little to inform young people of the true long-term consequences of smoking. The absence of graphic warnings on cigarette packs and in cigarette advertising impedes the effectiveness of Dr. Winickoff’s practice and causes him to expend additional resources to provide effective counseling. The presence of graphic warnings accurately depicting the long-term consequences of smoking would make Dr. Winickoff’s counseling more effective and would enable him to use available resources more effectively to promote the health of his patients.

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Comments

Enough already on cigarettes

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I think the message has long gotten across on tobacco being bad for health. Do we need another warning? To add more warnings seems trite. Perhaps the stronger warnings should go to the equally addictive and perhaps more costly government sanctioned state lottery, where thousands of people in the poorest communities lose their paycheck each week. Unless they avail themselves to Mass Health, I imagine the lottery players aren't investing in health care, which would seem as equally detrimental as cigarettes. Perhaps the pediatricians should watch for the five year olds buying scratch tickets at the local supermarket vending machine, with parental approval and the state turning a blind eye.

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Yes, the scourge

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of gambling addiction in young children is well-known, and much-studied by pediatricians around the world.

Also I would be fascinated to see the statistics backing your "equally addictive and perhaps more costly government sanctioned state lottery" equivocation. I'll just wait here patiently while you go find something about it on the NIH.

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It hasn't, actually

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I think the message has long gotten across on tobacco being bad for health.

It hasn't, actually. If you think that's true, ask the average smoker what COPD is.

By far, most smokers seem to think that the only serious health problem that can be caused by smoking is lung cancer, and most of them seem to regard lung cancer as a bullet: it might hit you, but a miss is as good as a mile. COPD, on the other hand, is just as fatal and is guaranteed to happen to every single smoker who does not quit. It is an ugly, ugly death, and clearly a reality that smokers are, by and large, not aware of.

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Even if they knew, they

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Even if they knew, they wouldn't care. Working at a hospital, nothing makes me shake my head worse than seeing guys getting out of their radiation treatments for the day and walk right over to the designated smoking area.

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cigs and tobacco products are LEGAL

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for adults. Some places actually make it illegal for an adult 21 and under. There are enough warnings and of course you would have to be mentally challenged not to know the health risks using tobacco products.If they want to actually outlaw tobacco products, they should just try and do it, not implement a nanny state. Banning tobacco would be as disastrous as our war on drugs.

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This sounds like one of those

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This sounds like one of those lawsuits that an unelected government official intentionally sets up to lose in order to force a change or increase in funding the elected officials have voted against.

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I don't particularly care for most

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smokers, don't care for the tobacco companies marketing strategies, and have lost two relatives due to the health effects of lifelong smoking. However, mandating that product packaging display graphic photos of smokers now in poor health is just beyond ludicrous.

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The prices on cigarettes need

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The prices on cigarettes need to be raised...make them so expensive that people can't afford the habit any longer!

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Ineffective

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unless you want to use that money to afford programs that incentivize companies to accept subsidies on chantix and other forms of quitting smoking. otherwise people will buy them in new hampshire, online, or from local sources which will in-turn keep the poor becoming poorer.

preventative measures are the best use of resources.

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I'm really curious about why

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I'm really curious about why kids pick up smoking. I can't get my head around how anyone could think it's a good idea.

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