FDA releases 9 graphic health warnings

Health Warnings

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has selected and released nine graphic warning labels for inclusion on the top 50% of the front and back of every cigarette pack and on 20% of every cigarette advertisement beginning in September, 2012. The new labels are required under the June 22, 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which gave the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the power to regulate tobacco products.  Described as “frank, honest and powerful depictions of the health risks of smoking” by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a recent press release, the warnings are expected to discourage smoking initiation among children and teens and to encourage current smokers to quit.  A New York Times article suggests that the labels will prompt litigation on behalf of major US tobacco companies due to infringement on their free-speech rights. Tobacco retailers must comply with the provisions of the Tobacco Control Act; draft guidance training for tobacco retailers is available from the FDA Center for Tobacco Products.

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