Graphic Cigarette Warnings Focus of FDA Proposed Rule Released Today

ATS Expert Resource: 

Hasmeena Kathuria, MD is an associate professor in pulmonary medicine at Boston University Medical School, the director of the Tobacco treatment Center at Boston Medical Center and serves at the vice chair for the ATS Tobacco Action Committee.

Michelle Eakin, PhD is an associate professor of medicine in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Johns Hopkins University, the co-director of the Johns Hopkins Adherence Research Center and the chair of the ATS Tobacco Action Committee.

Today the FDA issued its proposal for graphic warnings on cigarettes, a long overdue step says the American Thoracic Society in curbing the adverse health effects associated with smoking. Comments on the proposed rule are due by October 15, 2019. The FDA is required to issue a final rule by March 15, 2020. 

The ATS strongly supports effective graphic warning labels on tobacco products. But to effectively combat tobacco use in the U.S., a multi-pronged approach that includes a ban on all characterizing flavors in all tobacco products – including menthol – must be adopted.

Graphic warning labels for cigarette packages

  • Studies from around the world show that tobacco graphic warnings increase the awareness of tobacco harms, encourage smokers to quit, and prevent youth from starting to smoke.
  • The current cigarette warnings in the U.S. do not include graphic warnings, despite evidence of their effectiveness, and have not been updated since 1984.
  • We strongly support requiring effective graphic warning labels on tobacco products.
  • Expediting graphic tobacco health warnings will protect youth and reduce death from tobacco, the leading cause of preventable death.

“While there are other important actions Congress and the FDA must take to address tobacco, including regulation of flavors and effective regulation of e-cigarettes, moving forward with graphic warning labels will have a big impact on reducing youth tobacco use,” said Dr. Michele Eakin, chair of the ATS Tobacco Action Committee.

 

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