October 12, 2013
Area(s) of Interest: Advocacy Public Health
On Saturday, the California Medical Association (CMA) House of Delegates overwhelmingly voted to support (Res. 115-13) graphic image warning labels on tobacco packaging that depict the very real health impact of smoking.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rolled out a series of graphic advertisements in 2012, which featured startling photos of the health consequences of smoking. National smoking cessation hotlines and websites saw a doubling of calls and a fivefold increase in web visits while the ads were running.
The United States Food and Drug Administration has also proposed placing such images on cigarette packaging as a deterrent to smoking and a stimulus to cessation, but was stopped by legal challenges from the tobacco industry.
The resolution also directs CMA to urge courts to also support such labeling.
“Family physicians support the required use of graphic warnings and statements on cigarette packages and advertisements as an important step toward reducing the existing and future use of tobacco products,” wrote one delegate in online testimony. “Warnings help counter the 12.5 billion dollars cigarette manufacturers spend marketing their products each year. More than two dozen countries already require similar packaging for cigarettes.”
CMA has been a tireless advocate for stronger restrictions on the tobacco industry for decades. In 1970, 1978 and 1980, CMA supported ballot initiatives that would have banned smoking in many public places. In 1987, CMA took on its biggest tobacco-related challenge and won, with the passage of Proposition 99, which established a 25-cents-per-pack tax on cigarettes and a tax hike for other tobacco-related products.