For those sad, outcast New Yorkers still determined to puff away inside their Government-designated smoking ghettos, there's more bad news. Smoking is deadly, and Obama doesn't want you to forget it. In the first major change to cigarette packaging since the Reagan-era, the FDA is requiring graphic warning labels that will cover half a package's front and back, and the top 20% of all cigarette ads. The administration is currently mulling over 36 different potential labels, which range from the cartoonish to the revolting. Here's a sample.
In June, the FDA will narrow down these options [pdf] to nine, and in September cigarette manufacturers must begin putting them on packages and advertising. Smoking rates nationwide have declined from about 42% in 1965 to just under 21% in 2004, but health officials are worried the rates have remained flat since then. "That's bad news," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told reporters. "Every day, 4,000 young people try cigarettes for the first time and 1,000 continue to smoke."
A local proposal to require cigarette retailers to post graphic warning signs at the cash register died on the vine. But the Bloomberg administration is still moving forward with a smoking ban in city parks, beaches, boardwalks, and pedestrian plazas. Correlation does not imply causation, but last year NYC reached its lowest rate of smoking on record (15.8%), with less than 1 million adult smokers in the city—350,000 fewer than in 2002.
And if you think these ads are gross, just be glad you don't smoke in Egypt, or Thailand, or New Zealand or Brazil! (You should also be glad you're not the intern we tasked with finding all those links during lunch hour.)