Arizona Cancer Center supports FDA-mandated cigarette packaging

Arizona Cancer Center supports FDA-mandated cigarette packaging

An Arizona Cancer Center researcher helped develop the tobacco “quit line” toll-free number that connects smokers with a network of resources and which will appear on cigarette packaging starting next year.

The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday unveiled graphic cigarette packaging warning labels to communicate the dangers of smoking, and to help those smokers who wish to quit. Similar warnings are required on cigarette packages sold in many other nations around the world.

Scott Leischow, PhD, co-leader of biobehavorial and social sciences research at the Arizona Cancer Center, and a professor of medicine and public health at the University of Arizona, was serving as chief of the Tobacco Control Research Branch at the National Cancer Institute and was on assignment to the office of the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services as senior advisor for tobacco policy when the smokers quit line network was established.

1-800-QUIT-NOW will connect a caller to the smoking cessation resource in the state from which the call is made. Arizona Smokers’ Helpline, ASHLine, is operated by the UA’s Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health and funded by a state tobacco tax. An alternate Helpline number is 1-800-55-66-222.

Dr. Leischow said the graphic labels may “remind smokers of the harm from each puff of a cigarette, and that they can call a toll free number for help when they want to quit.” The quit lines provide free evidence-based services and information for smokers.

“Because smoking is the leading preventable cause of cancer , the Arizona Cancer Center applauds the FDA’s efforts to increase awareness and access to effective tobacco treatment,” he said.

Smoking facts from the FDA (via @FDATobacco on Twitter):

  • 70 percent of smokers want to quit
  • 400,000 Americans will die this year from cigarette use
  • The new labels are expected to result in 213,000 fewer smokers by 2012
  • Cigarette use is the #1 preventable cause of death in the US
  • Every day 6,600 people over 12 years old try their first cigarette—and 2,500 of them become regular smokers
  • The economic burden of tobacco is staggering: Each year $96 billion in medical costs and $97 billion in lost productivity