Some Health Experts Think Fossil Fuels Should Have Cigarette-Style Warnings On Label

According to The Independent, some British health experts believe warnings on fossil fuel labels could help consumers understand the future threat of climate change created by their actions today. The warnings, which would be similar to those on packs of cigarettes and other tobacco products, could also help raise awareness about the health risks of fossil fuels.

Scientist Mike Gill is among a group of experts who believe the warnings should be printed on or added to items like energy bills, plane tickets and gas station pumps. This method is believed to be a cost-effective way to implement the change across large platforms consumers already in use by consumers.

The environmental issues surrounding fossil fuels seem most pressing. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has stated that net-zero emissions must be reached within 30 years to keep global warming below 34.7 degrees Fahrenheit, according to The Independent. Should the global temperature rise more than that, widespread climate changes are likely to take effect. This means devastating forest fires, droughts and floods could occur much more often. However experts warn that there are also immediate health issues that the public needs to be aware.

"Fossil fuel use also harms others through ambient air pollution that accounts for about 3.5 million premature deaths per year, as well as through climate change, which increasingly threatens the health of current and future generations."

Gill and his colleagues made recommendations in an article in the peer-reviewed British Medical Journal, which explained how cigarette warning labels had served a similar purpose. In Europe, cigarettes and other tobacco products are sold with a graphic image that shows the real-life consequences of using the product. The warnings -- which were first added to packaging in the 1960s -- are now required in 118 countries worldwide and have changed consumers' view of smoking as "a normal lifestyle choice."

Experts hope that these types of warnings on fossil fuel products could have a similar stigmatizing effect on consumers. They also hope to end misleading ads that make claims about various companies' involvement in finding solutions that center renewable energy. The label awareness campaign would also suggest available fossil fuel alternatives as an added effort to turn consumers away from fossil fuels, thus bringing the world loser to the goal of net-zero emissions.

Though the British health experts are primarily looking for the initiative to begin in the U.K., a similar campaign has already been enacted in Massachusetts. The city of Cambridge voted to place fossil fuel warning labels on self-serve gas station pumps.

In other places, the program will likely prove to be more difficult to enact.