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U.S. cigarette packs could soon look like this

At least 122 countries have warning labels on cigarette packs that include graphic images of the health consequences of smoking, which remains the leading cause of death in the United States. Still, the U.S. is not one of those countries.

That will soon change if the Food and Drug Administration implements a proposed set of warnings it recently released and has until March 2020 to finalize.

Examples of proposed graphic warning labels
Proposed FDA Warning Label 1
Proposed FDA Warning Label 2
Proposed FDA Warning Label 3
Proposed FDA Warning Label 4
Proposed FDA Warning Label 5
Proposed FDA Warning Label 6
Photos courtesy U.S. Food and Drug Administration

The 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act mandated these warnings, considered a best practice in tobacco control, a decade ago, but they have been held up by tobacco industry legal challenges and FDA delays. A successful lawsuit – brought by a coalition of public health and medical groups, including Truth Initiative® – forced the agency to complete the proposed warnings and imposed the deadline of March 2020 to finalize them.

“Our nation must seize this opportunity to implement strong and effective cigarette warnings that improve understanding of the deadly consequences of smoking among both smokers and non-smokers, especially among our kids,” the groups said in a joint statement following the FDA’s proposal. “The tobacco industry cannot be allowed to further delay these necessary warnings that show and tell the truth about the deadly consequences of smoking.” 

Studies have found that viewing graphic images on cigarette packs could effectively warn smokers about the health consequences of cigarettes.