The U.S. Food and Drug Administration just issued a proposed rule requiring new warnings for cigarette advertising and packaging.  

The FDA said that the proposed warnings represent the most significant change to cigarette labels in more than 35 years.  Health warnings were first introduced on cigarette packaging in 1966 and were last updated in 1984 to include the Surgeon General's warnings that currently appear on packaging and advertising.

The new warnings proposed by the FDA include 13 new health warnings that are accompanied by a photograph.  Examples of proposed language include:

  • Tobacco smoke can harm your children
  • Tobacco smoke causes fatal lung disease in nonsmokers
  • Smoking causes head and neck cancer
  • Smoking during pregnancy stunts fetal growth
  • Smoking causes cataracts, which can lead to blindness

Once approved, the warnings will be required on all cigarette advertising and packaging in accordance with specific size and placement requirements.  For example, the warning would occupy the top 50 percent of the area of the front and rear panels of cigarette packages and at least 20 percent of the area at the top of cigarette advertisements.  

In announcing the rules, Acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless said, "With these new proposed cigarette health warnings, we have an enormous public health opportunity to fulfill our statutory mandate and increase the public’s understanding of the full scope of serious negative health consequences of cigarette smoking." 

The FDA is currently seeking public comment on the proposed warnings through October 15th.