FDA Implements Graphic Cigarette Warnings

In the first major overhaul in 25 years, the FDA has implemented new, graphic labels that tobacco companies will be forced to use for packaging starting in September 2012. The new labels include graphic pictures of corpses, tracheotomy holes, diseased lungs, rotted teeth and other images. The FDA estimates that these labels will cut the number of smokers by 213,000 in 2013, with continued reductions in the following years.

These new warnings will appear on the top 50% of the front and rear panels of every cigarette package, as well as in the upper portion of each cigarette advertisement. There are nine different labels, and tobacco companies will have to rotate these labels through. The labels show pictures of rotting teeth and gums, a woman smoking with her baby in her arms, a cartoon picture of a baby affected by smoking, a woman crying, diseased and shriveled lungs, a sewn-up corpse, a man with an oxygen mask on his face, cigarette smoke coming out of a tracheotomy hole in a man’s neck, and a man wearing a shirt that reads “I QUIT.”

The United States has actually lagged behind much of the world in regards to cigarette packaging. Before this overhaul, cigarette packaging in the US only included a small blurb on the side of the box that says that smoking causes lung cancer, heart disease, and other illnesses. Forty-three countries already require large graphic warnings on their packaging, and some of them are even more graphic than those proposed by the FDA. In Brazil, labels show graphic images of dead fetuses, hemorrhaging brains, and gangrenous feet. Due to the graphic nature of these new kinds of labels, reports show that smokers will be more acutely aware of the negative effects of smoking. In Canada, new warnings and pictures on cigarette packaging led to 9 out of 10 Canadians reporting that they had a deeper understanding of the consequences of smoking.

Over four hundred thousand people die in the United States from tobacco-related illnesses each year, making tobacco the top cause of preventable death in the country. It is the hope that these new graphic labels will alert users of the severe risks of smoking each time they see the package, and that this will serve to dissuade them from continued use. Since cigarette consumption is steadily decreasing, tobacco companies have been pressed to come up with new advertising campaigns to gain new users and retain old ones. Recent lawsuits have resulted in large settlements with tobacco companies alleging that they purposely marketed cigarettes and smokeless tobacco to children.

If you have lost a loved one to a tobacco-related illness, contact a wrongful death attorney to learn more about your legal rights. Contact us for a risk-free, no-cost case evaluation. Our firm has extensive experience with wrongful death.