FDA Proposed New Visual and Text Warning Labels for Cigarette Packaging and Ads


The FDA feels that surgeon general warnings, for the most part, have lost their impact and are ineffective due to their small size and the fact that these warnings have not changed in content or design since introduced. These new graphic warnings, however, would be designed to convey the risks associated with cigarette smoking in a more visually impactful manner. The FDA went so far as to test the new warnings on a consumer research group that reported that the new warnings taught them something they did not previously know about cigarette smoking. Each warning statement was paired with a color image. The statements included:

  • WARNING: Tobacco smoke can harm your children.
  • WARNING: Tobacco smoke causes fatal lung disease in nonsmokers.
  • WARNING: Smoking causes head and neck cancer.
  • WARNING: Smoking causes bladder cancer, which can lead to bloody urine.
  • WARNING: Smoking during pregnancy stunts fetal growth.
  • WARNING: Smoking can cause heart disease and strokes by clogging arteries.
  • WARNING: Smoking causes COPD, a lung disease that can be fatal.
  • WARNING: Smoking reduces blood flow, which can cause erectile dysfunction.
  • WARNING: Smoking reduces blood flow to the limbs, which can require amputation.
  • WARNING: Smoking causes Type 2 diabetes, which raises blood sugar.
  • WARNING: Smoking causes age-related macular degeneration, which can lead to blindness.
  • WARNING: Smoking causes cataracts, which can lead to blindness.

The FDA has already provided mockups of the new cigarette packaging that features a health warning that occupies the top 50 percent of the front and rear panels of a cigarette package and at a minimum 20 percent of there of the top of cigarette advertisements. If the proposed rule is passed, these new warnings would be required to appear on packages and on advertisements 15months after the final rule is issued.

You can read the FDA’s full proposed rule here. For all the latest legislation and FDA news impacting the tobacco industry, click here.