New Graphic Warning Labels Designed to Reduce the Deadly Effects of Smoking

Breaking news: smoking cigarettes will kill you.  Cigarette smoking kills an estimated 443,000 Americans each year, most of whom began smoking when they were under the age of 18.  Protecting our children and reducing tobacco-related death, disease and disability is one of the most important public health goals of our time and a top priority for the President. 

On June 22, 2009, President Obama signed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, giving the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to take steps to reduce the deadly effects of tobacco use and prevent companies from advertising their products to our children.

For decades, little has been done to update warning labels to discourage people from smoking.  We’re changing that. Today, the FDA unveiled new warning labels that will appear on every pack of cigarettes and every advertisement, sending a strong message about the dangers of smoking. 

Each day, millions of Americans are battling this addiction or simply concerned about their family and friends who smoke. In fact, the FDA estimates that the new labels will help reduce the number of smokers by 213,000 in 2013 alone.

Cigarette use costs the U.S. economy approximately $200 billion annually in medical costs and lost productivity.  These new labels will reduce the number of smokers and drive down the related medical costs, ultimately saving lives and putting money back in the pockets of millions of Americans.

While there’s more work to be done to prevent the use of cigarettes, this step will go a long way towards improving the health and well being of Americans, and we hope it will prevent our children and future generations from picking up this addictive and deadly habit.

These powerful images, coupled with a 1-800-QUIT-NOW number, will help make tobacco related death and disease, part of America’s past, not our future.

For additional information and to see the new warning labels, visit www.fda.gov/cigarettewarnings.

Kathleen Sebelius is Secretary of Health and Human Services.

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