The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the government agency which regulates food, drugs – and tobacco – has released new health warnings for U.S. cigarette packs. The warnings consist of graphic photos and messages, which must cover half of each cigarette package and make up 20 percent of each tobacco ad. Health experts note that the United States was the first country to require health warnings on tobacco but is now playing catch-up with more than 30 countries which have already made such warnings mandatory. They say the new mandate is long overdue.
The Food and Drug Administration says the super-sized warning images must be displayed on cigarette packages and in advertisements no later than September of next year. Margaret Hamburg is the FDA’s commissioner:
“These graphic warning labels are really intended to reach a wide range of smokers and potential smokers,” Hamburg said.
The warnings represent one of the most significant changes in cigarette labels in more than 25 years. There are nine different photos – including rotting teeth and an autopsied body – and they will cover the upper half of both sides of the pack.