New Cigarette Warnings Get Graphic

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One of the new cigarette warning labels that will debut by next fall

WASHINGTON, D.C. — For 25 years, warning labels on cigarettes have gone largely unnoticed. As required by the Family Smoking and Tobacco Control Act, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has enacted a final rule that requires graphic health warnings on all cigarette packages and advertisements starting in fall 2012.

The new warnings combine graphic images with bolded comments like “Cigarettes Cause Cancer” to speak directly to the harmful effects of tobacco products. While the graphic images displayed on the new warning labels may be disturbing to some, the World Health Organization has concluded that “health warnings on tobacco packages increase smokers’ awareness of their risk. Use of pictures with graphic depictions of disease and other negative images has greater impact than words alone.”


“The most important step a person can take to improve their health is to quit smoking,” says Deb Brown, President and CEO of the American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic. “In New Jersey, the adult smoking rate is 15.8% and the high school smoking rate is 17%. We have to invest in smoking cessation to prevent disease, save lives and reduce health costs.”

U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), who first introduced legislation in the Senate to strengthen warnings on cigarette labels in 1997, applauded the new graphic labels.

“For decades, Big Tobacco got away with slick marketing campaigns that fooled the public into thinking smoking was glamorous – and now we’re turning the tables on them. Each time a smoker reaches for a pack of cigarettes, the deadly truth will be staring them in the face,” Lautenberg said. “I applaud the FDA for breathing new life into our country’s efforts to alert the public to the lethal consequences of tobacco addiction. I’ve been working for over a decade to make these warning labels a reality, and I believe the FDA has taken a crucial step to make people – especially teenagers – think twice before lighting up.”

To get help to stop smoking, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW.

For assistance with quitting smoking or for additional questions about lung health, you can also call the American Lung Association’s Lung HelpLine at 1-800-548-8252.

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