FDA will make cigarette packages more gruesome to scare smokers

Although multiple efforts, including educational campaigns and higher taxes, have greatly reduced the number of smokers in only a couple of months, there are estimated to be around 34 million smokers in the United States. The FDA wants to reduce that number and plans to ramp up gruesome packaging as a disincentive. The new packaging will include imagery of lesser-known consequences linked to cigarettes.

On Tuesday, the FDA revealed that it has issued a final rule that will force cigarette manufacturers to include new warnings on their cigarette packages and related advertisements. These warnings will include photo-realistic images in color that depict some of the lesser-known consequences of smoking, including things like fetal growth problems and diabetes.

The warnings will also feature 'textual statements,' according to the FDA, which says that the new health warnings will start appearing on cigarette packaging and advertisements in June 2021. The top 50-percent of the front and back cigarette box panels will need to feature these warning labels, the agency says, as will a minimum of the 20-percent area on the top of advertisements.

A total of 11 warning labels have been approved; the FDA says that manufacturers will need to 'randomly and equally' distribute and display them on cigarette boxes and ads. The companies will need to rotate out the labels they use on a quarterly basis, as well. The labels will include warnings about cataracts, limb amputation, bladder cancer, type-2 diabetes, and more.

FDA Center for Tobacco Products director Mitch Zeller said:

The 11 finalized cigarette health warnings represent the most significant change to cigarette labels in more than 35 years and will considerably increase public awareness of lesser-known, but serious negative health consequences of cigarette smoking ... 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.