Statement of the American Lung Association on the Food and Drug Administration’s Graphic Warning Labels Proposal

Washington, D.C. (November 10, 2010)

The American Lung Association welcomes today’s announcement by Department of Health and Human Services officials regarding new proposals for graphic cigarette labels and advertisement warnings. 

 As part of the larger announcement on new nationwide tobacco control efforts, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, Assistant Secretary for Health Howard Koh and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Margaret Hamburg revealed FDA’s proposed rule that will require that cigarette makers apply graphic warning labels that cover the top half of both the front and back of each pack of cigarettes and 20 percent of an entire cigarette advertisement.  These warning labels will reflect the true dangers posed by smoking and will replace the stale warning labels that are relegated to the side of packs of cigarettes today.

As required in the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, all cigarette packs will be required to display more compelling and accurate statements than are currently displayed, including:  ‘‘WARNING: Cigarettes are addictive,” “WARNING: Tobacco smoke can harm your children,” “WARNING: Smoking can kill you,” “WARNING: Tobacco smoke causes fatal lung disease in nonsmokers,” “WARNING: Quitting smoking now greatly reduces serious risks to your health.”  These warning statements will be accompanied by vivid, graphic images.    

The implementation of the new, graphic warning labels are required under a provision added by Senator Michael Enzi (R-WY) and the late Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) during the U.S. Senate’s consideration of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act in 2007.  The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act was ultimately passed by Congress in 2009 with strong bipartisan support and signed into law by President Obama on June 22, 2009.

The new warning labels will appear on cigarette packs starting in September of 2012, and by October 22, 2012, all cigarette packs sold in the United States will be required to display these labels. 

A 2004 study found that the graphic style warning labels already in use in Canada prompted smokers to say they were more likely to quit as a result of the graphic labels.  The federal government has not changed warning labels on cigarettes sold in the U.S. since 1985 when Mikhail Gorbachev became the leader of the Soviet Union, “Back to the Future” was the blockbuster hit of the year and a gallon of gas cost $1.20. 

The Lung Association has been successfully helping smokers quit for more than 30 years with our Freedom From Smoking program.  For assistance with quitting smoking or for additional questions about lung health, please call the American Lung Association’s Lung HelpLine at 1-800-548-8252.

About the American Lung Association
Now in its second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. With your generous support, the American Lung Association is “Fighting for Air” through research, education and advocacy. For more information about the American Lung Association or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit