A Look at the New Warning Labels for Cigarette Packs

The FDA unveiled the new graphic images that will be required on all cigarette packs, cartons and ads by September 2012.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration revealed on Tuesday the warnings it has chosen to warn against the dangers of smoking. The nine graphic health warnings will be required on every cigarette pack, carton and advertisement no later than September 2012.

The warnings were first proposed in November 2010 to decrease the number of smokers, save lives, increase life expectancy and lower medical costs. FDA selected the final nine cigarette health warnings based on their ability to effectively communicate the health risks of smoking to the public. The FDA relied on public comments and studies to choose the labels.

According to Dr. Lawrence Deyton, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, feedback from the tobacco industry didn’t really focus on the warnings or graphics, but instead on more technical issues, such as packaging and the legality.

“These nine new graphic health warnings … show stark images and bold messaging that will graphically illustrate … the painful and deadly reality of smoking,” said Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin at a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services press conference.

The warnings will be displayed on the top half of both the front and back of cigarette packs and at least 20% of the upper portion of each advertisement. They show graphic images of health risks resulting from smoking, including how it affects infants, lung disease and death.

The nine labels will be rotated through brands and locations throughout a 12-month period so that someone using a particular brand will see all nine images over the course of a year.

Each pack of cigarette will also be required to have the national quit smoking hotline number. The number will patch callers through to their local hotline.

“Quitting at any age and at any time is beneficial,” Benjamin said. “It’s never too late to quit, but the sooner you do, the better.”

The new warning labels can be viewed here.