Home > Uncategorized > Help Reduce the Health Burden of Tobacco Use in America—Comment on the New Proposed Graphic Health Warning Labels for Cigarette Packs and Advertisements

Help Reduce the Health Burden of Tobacco Use in America—Comment on the New Proposed Graphic Health Warning Labels for Cigarette Packs and Advertisements

November 10, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Cigarette smoking kills an estimated 443,000 Americans each year, most of whom began smoking when they were under the age of 18. Tobacco use is the foremost preventable cause of premature death in America, and has been shown to cause cancer, heart disease, and other serious adverse health effects. Nearly 50,000 deaths annually are attributed to non-smokers’ exposure to secondhand smoke. That’s why today, we took another important step to protect the health of the American public from the toll of disease, disability and death caused by tobacco use in this county.

Earlier this morning, I joined Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Howard Koh and FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg to announce a proposal to require new and prominent health warnings on all cigarette packages, cartons and advertisements.

While most Americans know in general terms that tobacco is harmful, few know the key facts of how damaging tobacco is to their own health and the health of those around them. The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, a bill passed by an overwhelming majority of Congress, gave FDA the authority to require new, larger, and more prominent health warnings on packages and in advertising.

For cigarettes packs, cartons and ads, there will be nine warning statements and, for the first time, the FDA will require these warning labels to include color graphics clearly depicting the negative health consequences of smoking. 

The Tobacco Control Act also requires the warning statements to appear on the upper 50 percent of the front and rear panels of every cigarette package. Graphic health warnings will also occupy at least 20 percent of the upper portion of every cigarette advertisement. The inclusion of larger and more noticeable graphic health warnings on packages and in advertisements will clearly and effectively convey the negative health consequences of smoking to educate all Americans about the health risks of cigarettes. The goal of course is to help encourage current smokers to quit, and discourage nonsmokers, including youth, from starting to use cigarettes.

Everyone has the opportunity to comment directly on these proposed warnings and to help FDA choose the graphic health warnings required by law for use on cigarette packages and advertisements from Friday, November 12, 2010 through Tuesday, January 11, 2011. I encourage you to view the proposed warnings at www.fda.gov/cigarettewarnings and submit a comment so your suggestions can be officially considered for the final decision on how to do this, which will be issued by June 22, 2011.

Thank you
–Dr. Lawrence R. Deyton, M.S.P.H, M.D, Director FDA Center for Tobacco Products

  1. November 11, 2010 at 11:30 pm

    There is no doubt picture can convey a thousand words. Chosen correctly I think it could have a major impact.

  2. November 13, 2010 at 7:09 am

    I say take the high road – go with a picture of a diseased lung covering the entire front. A picture of the back of the diseased lung covering the top half of the back, with a horizontal stripe across it listing all of the additives.

    There’s enough room for branding on the top of the carton/package.

  3. Blake Luna
    November 18, 2010 at 9:18 pm

    I think the proposed images are very disturbing, and will do the job they have been created for. Smoking is undoubtedly harmful, and I think the government/FDA should be able to advertise just as creatively as the tobacco companies do. There are tons of measures and initiatives out that attempt to discourage smoking, but I don’t think any would have as great an impact as an image of someone dying of cancer or children crying.

    Yes, it is kind of bizarre and a bit twisted, but so is smoking.

  4. Skyler Roeshot
    November 19, 2010 at 2:28 am

    I’m glad that these labels will be put on cigarette packs. I think they will be effective at decreasing the number of people who want to take up smoking. I even heard that in Canada, these labels were so effective that men often refused a pack that had a label that said smoking causes ecretctile dysfunction. However, regulating and creating these labels was likely a costly task. The federal government should spend money to decrease smoking in the United States. However, all government agencies should work together with other government agencies to take a constant stance on the issue. According to marketwire, “One year after providing Ontario tobacco farmers with $300 million to “help them exit the tobacco industry,” the federal department of Agriculture and Agri-Food provided them with interest-free loans to keep on farming tobacco.” I’m all for getting the government involved in reducing the risks of smoking. I just wish the message was consistent across all branches and areas in the government.

  5. November 22, 2010 at 4:30 am

    There are tons of measures and initiatives out that attempt to discourage smoking, but I don’t think any would have as great an impact as an image of someone dying of cancer or children crying.

  6. Michele B
    November 22, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    I don’t mean to be cynical, but I’m really just not sure how big of an effect this will have on smkers’ decisions. It’s not the 1950s anymore. How many people really don’t know how bad smoking is for them?

    I’m not opposed to the FDA making this a requireent though; it’s not like it’s costing the federal government any money. And the way that they’re making the warning choice more participative is…somewhat novel. Turning it into a contest of sorts will definitely get more publicity than it otherwise would. But compared to something like say,cracking down on stores found selling cigarettes to minors, I can’t see this making much of a difference. If you’re already a smoker or just on your way to being one, I don’t see this as being enough to derail you from that path at all.

  7. November 24, 2010 at 12:58 am

    great initiative, i think it will be very helpful!

  8. November 24, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    Anything that gets a smoker to quit is worth it. Our health care costs are skyrocketing. Smokers take up a significant burden on health care costs…emphysema, stroke, heart attack, all cancers…the list goes on. How long are we going to pay for them? I suspect some day health insurance will be like life insurance. The worse shape you are in, the more it will cost.

  9. November 29, 2010 at 6:02 am

    I’m glad that these labels will be put on cigarette packs. I think they will be effective at decreasing the number of people who want to take up smoking. BTW… Smoking = EW!

  10. November 29, 2010 at 6:03 am

    I’m glad that these labels will be put on cigarette packs. I think they will be effective at decreasing the number of people who want to take up smoking. BTW… Smoking = EW, it’s terrible for your health and hurt my uncle who needed surgery for smoking diseases

  11. December 1, 2010 at 1:53 am

    For anyone who is interested, there is a very interesting chapter on smoking in the book entitled “Sugar Blues” that was written by William Dufty and published in 1975. I think that it is a must read for anyone discussing this issue.

  12. December 14, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    “Tobacco use is the foremost preventable cause of premature death in America, and has been shown to cause cancer, heart disease, and other serious adverse health effects. Nearly 50,000 deaths annually are attributed to non-smokers’ exposure to secondhand smoke. That’s why today, we took another important step to protect the health of the American public from the toll of disease, disability and death caused by tobacco use in this county.”
    You can read more about it?

  13. December 21, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day; educate that particular person to make use of the Web and so they won’t bother you for weeks. ~Author Unknown

  14. December 22, 2010 at 11:30 am

    These measures are already in place in Australia. I have found that most smokers choose to ignore the warnings and pictures. I’m glad I quit earlier as the pictures here are pretty disturbing!

  15. May 17, 2011 at 9:09 am

    It is amazing that in the year 2011 people still need labels to realize that cigarettes cause lung cancer and are bad for your health. Even with the label being as large as the box people continue to smoke. People will smoke regardless of what the label says or doesnt say

  16. dannysouth11
    May 19, 2011 at 8:21 am

    Cigarettes are bad for you, everyone know, almost noone cares until its too late. I know I smoked for a long time and did nto try to quit till my doctor flat out told me I would die. I tried everything to quit, gum, patch, nothing worked until I got a prokit from vapage.com they sell really good electronic cigarettes, not crappy china one.

  17. May 29, 2011 at 10:42 am

    Thanks, It’s interesting but also sometimes scary especially since these things are starting to show up in bathrooms in nightclubs and bars. You can’t go anywhere without some type of stimulus coming at you but it’s effective. but it is very inportant topics for us.

  18. June 6, 2011 at 1:40 am

    Thanks for the information. I think secondhand smoker is in danger than active smoker,

  19. Anonymous
    June 21, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    forget the graphic labels,just quit growing tobacco

  20. July 18, 2011 at 11:12 pm

    I work in a store that sells cigarettes in the UK and the pictures of diseased mouths and lungs don’t seem to have had any impact. The pictures get ignored now that smokers have got used to them.

    Raising the age limit has helped to a certain extent, but we still get older relatives and friends, even parents trying to buy them for youngsters. I’ve even been threatened on occasion when I’ve refused the sales.

    Stopping smoking in public places was a good move but I honestly think that it’s about time that tobacco products were banned worldwide now that we know just how harmful they are.

  21. September 8, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    The underlying value is the fact that many do not understand the basic chemicals found in cigarettes and therefore does not allow the opportunity for those who wish not to intake such chemicals without properly doing so.

    • Pat from smokeless cigarettes
      January 14, 2012 at 11:20 pm

      Unfortunately many smokers do understand the chemicals found in cigarettes and the health risks but they still fail to quit the habit. They even become inured to horrible pictures on cigarette packets wanting to believe that it won’t happen to them because they enjoy smoking. That’s why I believe that the substitution with lesser evils like smokeless cigarettes should be more common.

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  25. in8chiro
    February 18, 2013 at 6:03 pm

    I’m torn. I think pictures can be valuable, though I remember visiting other countries where the entire cigarette pack was a picture of a diseased body part, or some even much more graphic pictures of deceased people. Despite this, smoking is commonplace. It doesn’t seem to phase people. Is there any data showing a decrease in smoking in populations where these pictures have been used?

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