Mississippi Retailer Challenges Tobacco Warning Labels

A Mississippi tobacco retailer is questioning the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s plan that will require tobacco makers to include graphic health warnings and graphic images on cigarette packaging and advertisements,

“It’s another form of Big Daddy trying to tell people what to do,” said Frank Williams of Gulfport, who owns three Smokey’s Discount Tobacco stores in Gulfport, Miss., told the Mississippi Sun Herald. “They’re just trying to tell people how to live their life.”

A little more than a year from now, the FDA, as directed by the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, will require larger, more prominent cigarette health warnings on all cigarette packaging and advertisements in the U.S.

It’s the first change in cigarette warnings in a quarter century. It’s also a significant advancement in communicating the dangers of smoking, the FDA says. Williams told the Sun Herald he does not agree.

“I think people should have the right to live their life the way they choose to, not to have someone tell them what to do,” he told the newspaper. “Everyone has a little bad in their life. It’s a matter of someone’s opinion.”

The nine graphic images–which include a baby shrouded in smoke, an autopsied cadaver, a smile of discolored teeth and blackened, diseased lungs–are part of a broader strategy to help tobacco users quit and prevent young people from starting. The intent of the FDA is to show the negative health consequences of smoking every time someone picks up a pack of cigarettes or views a cigarette advertisement.

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