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Villarreal & Begum Last Updated Date: June 4th, 2021

Will New FDA Cigarette Warnings Pass?


Back in 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration tried to create graphic warnings on the risks of smoking. However, the D.C Circuit court shot down these warning labels since the FDA didn’t actually have any evidence that these warnings would lower smoking rates. On top of that, the court was not convinced the FDA was conveying factual information in an uncontroversial manner. Now, the FDA is testing out new warning labels in the hopes they will pass. The new labels will cover the front and back of cigarette packages and focus on the lesser-known health risks of smoking. So far, the FDA has submitted 13 warning images. If this rule is passed, all cigarette packs will have to have one of the 13 images printed on the package.

Some examples of the new package warnings are information such as smoking may lead to bladder cancer, limb amputation, and diabetes.  Each of these warnings will have a corresponding, image. One of the key issues with the 2012 labels was that the warning stated “do not use this product.”  or had emotionally invoking images to shame consumers to quit. Since the 2012 labels were shot down, the FDA is now focusing on more factual labels, and doing its own research to show that these labels will indeed reduce the rate of smoking in the country.

So far, it’s hard to tell if these labels will pass Constitutional scrutiny. The FDA may have a hard time proving that these labels will work. These labels have been in use in Europe for years, yet the rate of smoking is the same. However, some believe that if the court applies the Zauderer test, there would be no question that the FDA has the right to move forward with these labels. Whatever the outcome, the FDA needs to do more to ensure the safety of the public from harmful products, such as tobacco.

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