New Repulsive Cigarette Labels Aim to Deter Smoking

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today unveiled the nine disturbing health warnings required to appear on every pack of cigarettes sold in the United States and in every cigarette advertisement. The nine labels were chosen from the 36 originally proposed in November.

This measure is intended to help prevent children from smoking, encourage adults who already do to quit and ensure every American understands the dangers of smoking, the administration said.

The warnings represent the most significant changes to cigarette labels in more than 25 years and are required to be placed on all cigarette packs, cartons and ads no later than September 2012, the administration said.

“President Obama is committed to protecting our nation’s children and the American people from the dangers of tobacco use. These labels are frank, honest and powerful depictions of the health risks of smoking and they will help encourage smokers to quit, and prevent children from smoking,” Department of Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement.

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, and costs nearly $200 billion yearly in medical costs and lost productivity.

The new warnings, which were proposed in November 2010, were required under the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. [Images of the labels: New Cigarette Labels Unveiled by the FDA]

Previous research has shown that more-graphic labeling can help persuade smokers to quit, said Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine at University of California, San Francisco, and director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education.

"When you put these in, they affect behavior, and the stronger the labels are, the bigger the effect," Glantz told MyHealthNewsDaily when the proposed images were unveiled in November. "This is long overdue."

The FDA said it selected nine images after reviewing the relevant scientific literature, analyzing the results from an 18,000-person study and considering comments from the tobacco industry, retailers, health professionals, advocacy groups, academics, public health agencies and consumers.

Each warning is accompanied by a smoking cessation phone number, 1-800-QUIT-NOW, designed to be prominently displayed to smokers and to increase quitting success rates.

“The Tobacco Control Act requires FDA to provide current and potential smokers with clear and truthful information about the risks of smoking —these warnings do that,” said Commissioner of Food and Drugs Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg.

Pass it on: The FDA unveiled graphic new cigarette warning labels today.

This story was provided by MyHealthNewsDaily, a sister site to LiveScience. Follow MyHealthNewsDaily on Twitter @MyHealth_MHND.