With the decline in smoking rates stalled, the Food and Drug Administration has unveiled new graphic warning labels for cigarette packs that will be required next year.

The warning labels come in nine versions.


One shows a man smoking through a hole in his throat with the words “Warning: Cigarettes Are Addictive.” Others show a child next to a cloud of smoke, diseased lungs, rotted teeth, a baby in an incubator and a dead body. Each label will also include a smoking cessation phone number, 1-800-QUIT-NOW.

The new labels are mandated under a federal law passed in 2009 and will be required on all cigarette packs, cartons and ads beginning in September 2012. The FDA also released an image of how they will look in a convenience store.

The warning labels are part of a broader anti-tobacco strategy. Tobacco use is responsible for more than 440,000 premature deaths a year, the leading cause of preventable death in the country, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. About 1 in 5 adults smoke cigarettes, as do about 1 in 5 high school students. Smoking rates have declined dramatically in the past 40 years, but the declines have stalled recently, according to HHS.

Arielle Levin Becker covered health care for The Connecticut Mirror. She previously worked for The Hartford Courant, most recently as its health reporter, and has also covered small towns, courts and education in Connecticut and New Jersey. She was a finalist in 2009 for the prestigious Livingston Award for Young Journalists, a recipient of a Knight Science Journalism Fellowship and the third-place winner in 2013 for an in-depth piece on caregivers from the National Association of Health Journalists. She is a 2004 graduate of Yale University.

Leave a comment