Wednesday, June 22, 2011

New cigarette labels warn of health effects

This morning FDA announced the nine cigarette health warnings required to appear on every pack of cigarettes sold in the United States and in every cigarette advertisement. This bold measure is aimed at making sure that every American understands the dangers of smoking.

According to the FDA website, the final set of cigarette health warnings contains nine different text warnings and accompanying color graphics. These graphics encourage the following messages:

  • Cigarettes are addictive
  • Tobacco smoke can harm your children
  • Cigarettes cause fatal lung disease
  • Cigarettes cause cancer
  • Cigarettes cause strokes and heart disease
  • Smoking during pregnancy can harm your baby
  • Smoking can kill you
  • Tobacco smoke causes fatal lung disease in non smokers
  • Quitting smoking now greatly reduces serious risks to your health

It is the goal of the FDA to increase awareness of the specific health risks associated with smoking, such as death, addiction, lung disease, cancer, stroke and heart disease; encourage smokers to quit; and empower youth to say no to tobacco. The introduction of these warnings is expected to have a significant public health impact by decreasing the number of smokers, resulting in lives saved, increased life expectancy, and lower medical costs.


  • Today’s FDA announcement of graphic warning labels for cigarette packs sold in the U.S. is a new opportunity for us to encourage smokers to receive frank and honest information about quitting each and every time they purchase cigarettes.
  • Each warning will be accompanied by 1-800-QUIT-NOW, increasing the likelihood that smokers who want to quit will be successful.
  • The FDA’s new warning labels are a proven way to educate smokers and others, including youth, about the dangers of tobacco use and encourage smokers to quit. The new warnings are a huge improvement over the current U.S. cigarette warning labels, which are barely noticeable and have not been changed in decades.
  • The new warnings are a powerful complement to our efforts to reduce smoking, not a substitute. We need to continue all of our current efforts in conjunction with this new opportunity that will go into effect in 2012.
  • As the warning labels encourage smokers to try to quit, we need to make sure that all smokers have access to proven methods that help them succeed in quitting, including counseling and medications. The Indiana Tobacco Quitline is a resource that all adult Hoosiers can use to help them quit. They can simply call 1-800-Quit-Now to speak with a trained coach to be on the road to becoming tobacco free for life.


  • The FDA selected nine images from the originally proposed 36 after reviewing the relevant scientific literature, analyzing the results from an 18,000 person study and considering more than 1,700 comments from a variety of groups, including the tobacco industry, retailers, health professionals, public health and other advocacy groups, academics, state and local public health agencies, medical organizations and individual consumers.
  • When implemented in September 2012, all cigarettes manufactured for sale or distribution in the United States will need to include the new graphic health warnings on their packages. The introduction of these warnings is expected to have a significant public health impact by decreasing the number of smokers, resulting in lives saved, increased life expectancy, and improved health status.
  • These new cigarette warnings, which were proposed in November 2010, were required under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. This national legislation that was signed into law in 2009 and provided the FDA with the authority to regulate tobacco products.
  • The U.S. will join 43 other countries that already require graphic pictures or images on cigarette packs designed to discourage smoking.
  • Tobacco use remains the number one preventable cause of death in the U.S. and in Indiana, killing more than 27 Hoosiers every day and causing over $2 billion each year in health care costs.

For more information on these labels visit the FDA website here.

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