Federal Officials Propose Bolder Health Warnings On Cigarette Packages

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A new cigarette smoking warning image proposed by the federal Food and Drug Administration as it would appear on a cigarette package.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Department of Health and Human Services unveiled a new comprehensive tobacco control strategy today that includes proposed new bolder health warnings on cigarette packages and advertisements.

Once final, these health warnings on cigarettes and in cigarette advertisements will be the most significant change in more than 25 years. These actions are part of a broader strategy intended to help tobacco users quit and prevent children from starting.

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Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) applauded the new warning initiative.

“For too long, the health warnings on cigarettes have been barely visible and totally ineffective,” Lautenberg said. “We need to send a strong message to young people who are thinking about smoking, and we need to motivate existing smokers to quit. These labels eliminate any glamour that may still be associated with smoking, and place the dangerous health effects of cigarettes front and center.”

Tobacco use is the leading cause of premature and preventable death in the United States, responsible for 443,000 deaths each year. Thirty percent of all cancer deaths are due to tobacco. Each day 1,200 lives of current and former smokers are lost prematurely due to tobacco-related diseases.

“Every day, almost 4,000 youth try a cigarette for the first time and 1,000 youth become regular, daily smokers,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “Today marks an important milestone in protecting our children and the health of the American public.”

The strategy includes a proposal issued by the Food and Drug Administration titled Required Warnings for Cigarette Packages and Advertisements. Specifically, the proposed rule details a requirement of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act that nine new larger and more noticeable textual warning statements and color graphic images depicting the negative health consequences of smoking appear on cigarette packages and in cigarette advertisements. The public has an opportunity to comment on 36 proposed images through Jan. 9, 2011.

By June 22, 2011, FDA will select the final nine graphic and textual warning statements after a comprehensive review of the relevant scientific literature, the public comments, and results from an 18,000-person study. Implementation of the final rule (Sept. 22, 2012) will ultimately prohibit companies from manufacturing cigarettes without new graphic health warnings on their packages for sale or distribution in the United States.

In addition, manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers will no longer be allowed to advertise cigarettes without the new graphic health warnings in the United States. By Oct. 22, 2012, manufacturers can no longer distribute cigarettes for sale in the United States that do not display the new graphic health warnings.

“Today, FDA takes a crucial step toward reducing the tremendous toll of illness and death caused by tobacco use by proposing to dramatically change how cigarette packages and advertising look in this country. When the rule takes effect, the health consequences of smoking will be obvious every time someone picks up a pack of cigarettes,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. ” This is a concrete example of how FDA’s new responsibilities for tobacco product regulation can benefit the public’s health.”

To view all of the proposed warning graphics, visit http://www.fda.gov/TobaccoProducts/Labeling/CigaretteProductWarningLabels/default.htm


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