June 21, 2011
By Mark Mulholland
WNYT Channel 13
For video footage, click here.

SARATOGA SPRINGS – If the cost, $10 a pack, isn’t a deterrent, then new warning labels to be placed on all cigarette packs beginning in the fall of next year, might be.

The FDA unveiled the images and the warnings on Tuesday.

Rick Conlee says graphic pictures won’t make him quit.

“I’m well aware of the risks,” says Conlee. “I’ve seen them in science textbooks. If people can’t stomach that, then that’s their problem.”

The FDA says the warnings must occupy at least half of the packaging and twenty percent of advertisements.

Smoker Jennifer Brower calls the warnings overdue.

“I think it’s going to make me think twice about lighting the next one up.”

And that’s exactly the idea say anti-smoking advocates.

“We feel they will be a tremendous deterrent. We know that many smokers are trying to quit and this provides them with an incentive,” says Janine Stuchin, project manager with the Southern Adirondack Tobacco-Free Coalition

Similar warnings already cover cigarette packs in other countries. Stuchin acknowledges that some will find the images too graphic.

“The images should be disturbing. The issue is disturbing and there’s no way to sugarcoat it.”

Former smoker Cory Rivera agrees, “I’ve lost family members to smoking, due to cancer and what not, just my children, I don’t want to see my four-year-old smoking. That’s perfect, graphic images is what we need. Put them on billboards.”

The FDA says the new warnings must be on every pack by October 22, 2012.