The Food and Drug Administration released nine new images that must appear on all cigarette packaging and advertisements. They include graphic pictures of a body post-autopsy, diseased lungs lying next to healthy lungs, and a man blowing smoke out of a tracheotomy hole.
“These labels are frank, honest and powerful depictions of the health risks of smoking and they will help encourage smokers to quit, and prevent children from smoking,” U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement when the images were released.
The new labels, which represent the biggest change to cigarette labeling in 25 years, are required under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.
Starting in September 2012, the new labels – which also include a hotline number for smokers who want to stop – will be required on every cigarette advertisement and pack of cigarettes.
At least 50 percent of cigarette packaging must be covered by a warning label on which one color image is displayed with a written warning, such as “Cigarettes are addictive” or “Smoking can kill you.” The warnings also must cover at least 20 percent of cigarette advertisements.
The FDA said it selected the images from 36 that were based on study results, scientific literature, and 1,700 comments from consumers, retailers, tobacco companies, health professionals, academics, state and local public health agencies, medical organizations, and public health advocates.
To see the nine images selected by the FDA, click here.
Why it matters: The tobacco companies are not accepting the labeling changes without a fight. A coalition of the companies – including R.J. Reynolds and Lorillard – filed a lawsuit challenging the Tobacco Control Act, which established the new labeling requirements. Last year a federal court judge ruled that the companies could be required to use the labels, but also held that a separate limitation on marketing materials to black text on a white background was unconstitutional. The decision is currently on appeal before the 6th Circuit. The Association of National Advertisers, which joined in the lawsuit, said it is considering an additional challenge to the FDA’s new images. “We are still discussing whether we go directly with a lawsuit or whether we will enter a friend-of-the-court filing,” Dan Jaffe, the executive vice president of the ANA for government relations, told Advertising Age. “We will certainly join with others in opposing this proposal” because “the government on its own. . .can’t put words in the mouths of advertisers.”