CLEVELAND, OH – U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today commended the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for proposing a long-overdue rule to require graphic health warnings on cigarette packages and in advertisements to promote greater public understanding of the negative health consequences of smoking. The use of graphic warnings as a way to communicate the health risks of smoking is supported by a significant amount of scientific evidence, and is a best-practice in to reducing tobacco use and saving lives.
Brown praised the agency for finally taking this critical step that helps show the truth about the deadly consequences of smoking, and demanded that the FDA move quickly to finalize and implement these new graphic warning requirements. Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death. Every year, more than 480,000 Americans die from smoking-related causes.
Brown also urged the FDA to do more when it comes to e-cigarettes, vaping and the flavors that tobacco companies use to market to and encourage children and teens to smoke e-cigarettes. Brown said the FDA must better crack down on tobacco companies that use manipulative marketing to encourage children and teens to smoke e-cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco and other tobacco products.
“The tobacco industry cannot be allowed to hide behind lawsuits any longer; this rule will go a long way in requiring the industry to tell the truth about the deadly consequences of smoking,” said Brown. “At the same time, Big Tobacco has turned to e-cigarettes, vaping and other manipulative marketing practices to lure children and teens in to drum up business. We need the FDA to act quickly to finalize this rule, and do more to ensure e-cigarettes and these other products aren’t a loophole for Big Tobacco to hook a new generation on their products.”
Recognizing the value of graphic warnings as a way to reduce tobacco use and save lives, Congress included a graphic warning requirement in the 2009 Tobacco Control Act. After Big Tobacco sued to prevent this requirement from going into effect, the FDA has dragged its feet and failed to finalize any policy to meet this requirement under the Tobacco Control Act and reduce tobacco use. Today’s announcement represents the most significant change to cigarette labels in 35 years. Once implemented, the FDA’s rule would require tobacco companies to include science-based, photo-realistic, color images depicting health conditions that can result from tobacco use on all cigarette packaging and advertisements. The FDA issued its proposed rule today and will accept public comment on the proposal until October15, 2019. Upon finalization of the rule, companies will have 15 months to update their packaging and advertising with graphic warnings to comply with the new requirement.