FDA Unveils Graphic Warning Labels for Cigarette Packs

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American Cancer Society Says New Labels Convey Powerful Message

New York, NY (June 21, 2011) – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has unveiled its new graphic warning labels for cigarette packaging, as required by the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act enacted in 2009.  According to the American Cancer Society, these labels will reduce smoking rates and prevent smoking among youth.

“When reality stares you in the face, it’s hard to pick up a cigarette,” said Blair Horner, Vice President for Advocacy, American Cancer Society of NY & NJ.  “Studies have shown that these warning labels are highly effective in encouraging smokers to quit and discouraging nonsmokers, especially kids, from ever starting.”

The new FDA warning labels are huge improvement over current warning labels, which are barely noticed and have not been changed in decades.  The U.S. will join 43 other countries that already require pictures or images on cigarette packs.  The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act requires graphic (pictorial) warning labels to cover the top 50% of the front and rear panels of the cigarette package.  The same warning labels are required in advertising and must comprise at least 20% of the advertisement’s area. 

The FDA’s graphic warning label requirements are based on the best available science and real world experience regarding warning labels, including the best practices from other countries and the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO), Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, the US President’s Cancer Panel, the US Surgeon General and other leading health experts.

Graphic warning labels are proven to be effective because they:
o    Convey important health information.
o    Decrease the attractiveness and appeal of cigarettes.
o    Help to create an environment where non-smoking is the norm. 
o    Counter the alluring and persuasive images the tobacco industry uses to market their products.

Tobacco use remains the number one preventable cause of death in the U.S., killing more than 400,000 Americans every year (1,200 per day) and causing almost $100 billion each year in health care costs.  

As the warning labels encourage smokers to try to quit, increased numbers of smokers will need access to proven methods that help them succeed in quitting, including counseling and medications.  This means support for funding for the tobacco control programs in New York and New Jersey is vital. 

Additional Resources:
FDA's New Graphic Warning Labels for Cigarette Packaging
Guide to Quit Smoking
Save Tobacco Prevention Funding - New York
Strike Back Against Tobacco - New Jersey


About the American Cancer Society
The American Cancer Society combines an unyielding passion with nearly a century of experience to save lives and end suffering from cancer. As a global grassroots force of more than three million volunteers, we fight for every birthday threatened by every cancer in every community. We save lives by helping people stay well by preventing cancer or detecting it early; helping people get well by being there for them during and after a cancer diagnosis; by finding cures through investment in groundbreaking discovery; and by fighting back by rallying lawmakers to pass laws to defeat cancer and by rallying communities worldwide to join the fight. As the nation’s largest non-governmental investor in cancer research, contributing more than $3.4 billion, we turn what we know about cancer into what we do. As a result, more than 11 million people in America who have had cancer and countless more who have avoided it will be celebrating birthdays this year. To learn more about us or to get help, call us any time, day or night, at 1-800-227-2345 or visit cancer.org.