Beginning on June 18, 2021, the new cigarette health warnings will be required on cigarette packages and in advertisements, occupying the top 50% of the area on the front and back panels of packages and at least 20% of the area at the top of cigarette ads, according to the FDA.
“Research shows that the current warnings on cigarettes, which have not changed since 1984, have become virtually invisible to both smokers and nonsmokers, in part because of their small size, location and lack of an image. Additionally, research shows substantial gaps remain in the public’s knowledge of the harms of cigarette smoking, and smokers have misinformation about cigarettes and their negative health effects,” Zeller said. “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.”
The proposed warnings feature color images and describe the health risks of smoking, warning, “Smoking reduces blood flow to the limbs, which can require amputation,” and “Smoking causes bladder cancer, which can lead to bloody urine.”
“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today has taken a critical and long-overdue step forward in the nation’s battle against tobacco use — the number one cause of preventable death,” the statement said in part. “The new warnings show and tell the truth about the deadly consequences of smoking and will promote greater public understanding of the many ways in which smoking harms the human body.”
R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, which is among the tobacco companies impacted by this FDA rule, issued a statement in response on Tuesday.
“We firmly support public awareness of the harms of smoking cigarettes, but the manner in which those messages are delivered to the public should comply with First Amendment protections that apply to all speakers, including cigarette manufacturers,” the statement said. “Publication of the comparative risks of other tobacco products by FDA to the public is imperative, so that adults who wish to continue to use them can make fully-informed decisions between product options in the tobacco category. We are evaluating our options and will communicate next steps soon.”