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In a dramatic effort to persuade Americans to cut back on cigarette smoking, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration today released nine new graphic warning labels that will appear on cigarette packages by September, 2012.

The images are attention grabbing, to say the least. One features a man’s face with a lighted cigarette in hand, smoke escaping from the hole in his neck, the result of a tracheotomy procedure. A second image shows a mother holding her child in a cloud of smoke with the caption “Tobacco smoke can harm your children.”

These pictures send a harsh message, but a necessary one. Smoking is the leading cause of early and preventable death in the United States, with an appalling 443,000 fatalities each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and it costs almost $200 billion each year in medical costs and lost productivity.

In addition to the images, the label on cigarette packs will include a phone number, 1-800-QUIT-NOW, giving smokers a resource for quitting. These new efforts are part the new Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, signed into law by president Obama in 2009.

Do you think that these images will prove effective in advancing the fight against tobacco, or are they going to far in their graphic nature?  Please post with your comments!