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Eau Claire (WQOW) - Dramatic changes are coming to packs of cigarettes. Tuesday, the FDA unveiled new warning labels that start next year. The images are graphic and are meant to keep people from lighting up. The changes are sweeping, but will they make a difference?
The new cigarette warning labels are meant to stir emotions and get a reaction. It seems they do.
"Wow," says Autumn Rehling, a 13 year old who doesn't smoke.
"They're gross pictures," says Abby Davis, an occasional smoker.
"Just, disgust," non-smoker Barb Rehling says.
"This is really sad," says Daniel Kraft, a smoker.
"It's not just a warning. It's more eye-opening," non-smoker Chris Kohn says.
Starting in October 2012, every cigarette pack sold in the US will feature one of these nine images on its front and back. The different labels struck people in downtown Eau Claire in different ways.
"She looks so sad," Abby says, describing one of the warning labels depicting a woman. "She looks so horribly sad. It's more than just you that it's affecting--I think makes more of a difference compared to just you."
"This second one here about smoking can harm your children," says Mohey El Attar, a smoker, describing another label that strikes him, "I get people talking to me all the time about how you shouldn't smoke around your children. I have a daughter."
The goal is to motivate smokers to quit and stop potential ones from lighting up. One in five Americans currently smokes.
"Sometimes, you have to scare people into realizing how horrific it is," Barb says.
"Maybe actual people who smoke aren't aware of the actual physical damage it can do to yourself on the inside and the outside," Autumn says.
Smokers aren't so sure of the effectiveness.
"Like the government hasn't forced us to know," Daniel says, sarcastically. "They can't even have cigarettes on TV anymore, right?"
"They did the smoking ban in restaurants and things like that," Mohey says. "I thought that was going to make me quit. I thought that was going to make a lot of people quit. It didn't seem to have as big an affect as I thought it would."
Still, some say it'll make them think twice.
"If someone goes to grab a pack of cigarettes and they're like, 'Should I have a cigarette? Or should I not?' and they see the picture, they might not," says Abby.
"I'll think about it," Mohey says. "I'll think about it more. I've been wanting to quit for a long time. It's just not a very easy thing to do."
Many other countries already require graphic warning labels on cigarette packs. Some are much more extreme than the ones announced for the US Tuesday. Some have argued the new warnings here won't be graphic enough to make a difference.
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