WASHINGTON — The Department of Health and Human Services on Tuesday morning unveiled the nine graphic health warnings mandated by the Food and Drug Administration to appear on every pack of cigarettes sold in the United States and in every cigarette advertisement.
The warnings represent the most significant changes to cigarette labels in more than 25 years and will affect everything from packaging to advertisements. The warnings are required to be placed on all cigarette packs, cartons and ads no later than September 2012.
“These labels are frank, honest and powerful depictions of the health risks of smoking, and they will help,” HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius said. “These labels will encourage smokers to quit and [will] prevent children from smoking.”
Tobacco use is the leading cause of premature and preventable death in the United States, responsible for 443,000 deaths each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tobacco-related illnesses cost nearly $200 billion every year in medical costs and lost productivity.
The FDA selected nine images from the originally proposed 36 after reviewing the relevant scientific literature, analyzing the results from an 18,000-person study and considering more than 1,700 comments from a variety of groups, including the tobacco industry, retailers, health professionals, public health and other advocacy groups, academics, state and local public health agencies, medical organizations and individual consumers.
For more information on graphic warning labels and high-resolution images, visit FDA.gov/CigaretteWarnings.