Long Island Report: FDA cigarette warning labels controversial on Long Island

Posted by Lauren Greco and Joanne Lumaban 
Wednesday, December 14, 2011 ·

Images depicting lung disease, mouth cancer and a corpse are three of the nine new warning labels that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is requiring on all cigarette packs by 2012.

For the thousands of Long Islanders who smoke, this is proving to be a controversial issue.

The new images on cigarette labels have stirred up controversy.

Long Island resident and smoker, Briana, said she feels that the labels are unnecessary.

“I don’t think that that’s right,” she said. “People already know that cigarettes are bad for them, so I think that putting the new labels on are just overkill.”

Uniondale resident Nicole Campana disagrees.

“You don’t really realize what’s going on when you do smoke a cigarette, so I think that it’s actually going to make a lot of people reconsider every time they do smoke a cigarette,” Campana said.

Susan Kennedy, director of the Tobacco Action Coalition of Long Island, said she thinks the labels will be effective.

“On Long Island, the daily smoking rate is somewhere around 14 percent,” she said. “The whole point of the labels is to show the reality of smoking.”

The labels may also have an impact on Long Island business owners who sell cigarettes such as gas stations, convenience stores and smoke shops.

Michael Seilback, policy and communications vice president of the American Lung Association of New York, said he thinks that the graphic new warning labels will serve their purpose.

“While they might not be something that you want to see in a store, that is the point,” said Selback. “If it has that reaction for you, you might make that decision, ‘You know what…I am not going to buy the cigarettes today.’”

The legality of the new labels is now part of a pending federal lawsuit that was put on a halt in November. However, the Obama administration and the FDA submitted an appeal to the halt on Nov. 29.

These images, which are the most significant change to cigarette labeling in over 25 years, will replace the old text on cigarette packs by showing the negative health effects of smoking. They will occupy both the front and back of cigarette packs.