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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

FDA Announces New Cigarette Warning Labels

This afternoon at the White House, Partnership for Prevention attended the unveiling of the nine graphic health warnings that will appear on every pack of cigarettes sold in the United States and in every cigarette advertisement. Beginning September 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will require larger, more noticeable health warnings, replacing the Surgeon General warning that is currently displayed.  This marks the first change in cigarette packaging in more than 25 years. The graphic warnings attempt to accurately communicate the dangers of smoking by representing serious tobacco-related health risks including death, addiction, lung disease, cancer, stroke, and heart disease. Each warning is also accompanied by a smoking cessation phone number, 1-800-QUIT-NOW, which provides information and support from trained professionals to help smokers who are interested in quitting. 

The FDA worked with experts in the fields of health communications, marketing, graphic design, and advertising to develop 36 proposed graphic images. They conducted a large-scale study with 18,000 participants from different age groups and ethnic backgrounds to measure consumer responses to the images and determine relative effectiveness of the proposed warnings. They also released the images to the public and received 1,700 comments from various groups. After reviewing relevant scientific literature, analyzing the results of the study, and reviewing public comments, the FDA selected the final nine images.

The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act requires the new graphic health warnings to appear on every cigarette pack, carton, and advertisement by September 22, 2012. They will appear on the top 50 percent of both the front and back panels of each cigarette package and in the upper portion of each cigarette advertisement. This rule applies to anyone who packages, distributes, imports, or sells cigarette products in the United States. The FDA intends to monitor and evaluate the impact of the required warnings once they enter the marketplace to determine their effectiveness with various target audiences.

“These labels are frank, honest and powerful depictions of the health risks of smoking and they will help encourage smokers to quit, and prevent children from smoking.” said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Tobacco use is responsible for 433,000 deaths annually and costs our economy nearly $200 billion each year in medical costs and lost productivity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The introduction of these warnings is expected to have a major public health impact by decreasing the number of smokers, resulting in many lives saved and improved health.

Jenna Frkovich
Tobacco Control Team

Posted by: Brian McCue at 12:00 AM
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On Sunday, July 10, 2011 Bryson Bryson said...
Your story was really informative, thanks!

On Thursday, March 15, 2012 Mount Mount said...
Amid reports of csucess, I am concerned that a problem not be overlooked: historically increased revenues from tobacco taxes create an incentive for the government, or its members, to protect and service the cigarette companies in various ways as a reward for that tax revenue which the government has grown dependent on (almost as much as the addict on the nicotine). One such protection is to invest more revenue in law enforcement against cannabis users, which benefits the tobacco cigarette oligopoly in two main ways: (1) it deters some citizens from using cannabis as a means to help quit tobacco; (2) it deters most citizens from possessing and using dosage reduction utensils (one-hitters, vaporizers) for fear of being observed and accused of a connection with illegal cannabis. This latter deterrence strategy blocks masses of tobacco users, without having to quit tobacco, from shifting from the high-profit 700-mg-every-time-you-want-a-smoke cigarette format to a 25-mg-per serving one-hitter or other dosage-restriction method which would soon (I say deservedly) bankrupt the cigarette companies and also abruptly reduce that WHO-estimated 6,000,000-per-year death toll.

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