New health warnings will be required for all cigarette packages and advertisements

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FDA officials say the requirements are the most significant change in 35 years

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has finalized new health warnings that will soon be required on all cigarette packaging and advertising. 

The new warnings include additional statements and images that detail how smoking can impact consumers’ health; this includes higher risk of disease for the smoker and additional consequences for pregnant women who are exposed to the products.

“The 11 finalized cigarette health warnings represent the most significant change to cigarette labels in more than 35 years and will considerably increase public awareness of lesser-known, but serious negative health consequences of cigarette smoking,” said Dr. Mitch Zeller, the director of FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products. 

New warnings

The new warnings were finalized by the FDA on Tuesday, but they will not be required on cigarette packaging and advertisements until June, 2021. The agency considered a total of 13 new warnings but settled on 11 following a series of studies, a public comment period, and after considering legal and policy considerations.

The 11 text warnings (which will be accompanied by photo-realistic images) include the following:

  • 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 cataracts, which can lead to blindness.

Officials say the new rules will be helpful to both smokers and nonsmokers by closing the information gap about cigarette products. 

“The new cigarette health warnings complement other critical FDA actions, including outreach campaigns targeted to both adults and youth, to educate the public about the dangers associated with using cigarettes, as well as other tobacco products,” Zeller said.

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