The Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center announced its support last week for the new, more graphic warning labels for cigarette packaging required by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

In a statement, the Lombardi Cancer Center outlined the immediate physical effects of carcinogens as the reason behind its support for the new packaging regulations. The regulations, effective June 22, 2011, will feature larger written warnings and images depicting the long-term health effects of smoking.

According to the statement, research has found that smoking a single cigarette enables the “activation of pathways involved in cell death, inflammation and other forms of systemic damage.”

This data complements other research that previously led the HHS and the Lombardi Center to advocate for stronger warnings on cigarette packages. According to the HHS, tobacco use is responsible for the most premature and preventable deaths in the United States, with 443,000 people dying because of tobacco use each year. About 1,200 smokers die each day due to their tobacco use.

The new packaging standards have been used in several foreign countries, including Uruguay and Singapore, for several years. The decision to implement these warnings reflects an international movement to control tobacco advertising and more fully outline the dangers of smoking. This week, 171 countries will gather to form an anti-smoking treaty.

Smokers have mixed feelings about the university’s level of tolerance for the habit. While some smokers feel that tobacco use is not well accommodated by the Office of Residence Life, Georgetown has never released official statements discouraging the practice of smoking apparent in their student body.

Approximately 12 percent of Georgetown’s student body smokes, according to Carol Day, director of health education Services. HES provides information about tobacco use to students through its website and also offers individual counseling resources to students who want to quit smoking, though very few students express interest, Day said.

On campus locations Hoya Snaxa and Vital Vittles sell cigarettes and chewing tobacco and occasionally offer discounts on tobacco products. Representatives of The Corp declined to comment on the sale of tobacco in its stores.

“I was surprised when I first saw cigarettes at Vittles and Snaxa, and even more so when I saw [chewing] dip there too,” Stephanie Welsh (NHS ’14) said. “It’s strange for any school, much less a Jesuit one, to make tobacco so easily accessible when it’s so big on promoting overall health for its students.”

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