Just a week after a federal judge formally blocked new rules by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requiring tobacco firms to put graphic images on packages of cigarettes, the federal government announced that it is launching its own campaign warning the public about the dangers of smoking. Some states have paid for anti-smoking advertisements, but this is the first time the federal government has bankrolled a public service campaign focused on driving down the number of Americans who smoke.
The FDA tried to tackle the nation’s tobacco addiction and prevent teenagers from picking up the habit by establishing strict new rules for tobacco companies who wanted to sell their products in the United States. The new regulations required large, graphic images of smokers with tracheotomy tubes, and dead bodies lying with messages like, “Smoking kills.” The ruling was to go into effect last fall, but tobacco companies fought the requirements, arguing First Amendment violations. A federal judge last week formally backed the tobacco industry, though the Justice Department, which represents the FDA, will likely appeal the decision.
The new public service campaign announced this week will be financed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and will cost the government $54 million in its first year – about what the tobacco industry pays in one day to promote its products.
Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, CDC director, says the campaign will save lives and money, encouraging an estimated 50,000 people to quit the habit. “And that will translate not only into thousands who will not die from smoking, but it will pay for itself in a few yeas in reduced health costs.”
The campaign began this week with television and newspaper ads featuring former smokers talking about their health consequences.