Major victory: FDA must now issue long-delayed graphic warnings on cigarette packs

September 5, 2018


In a major victory in the fight against tobacco, a judge ruled that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must implement new rules requiring tobacco companies to place graphic health warnings on cigarette packs and in their advertisements.

A decade ago, ACS CAN staff and volunteers worked tirelessly to garner support for the Tobacco Control Act. The law, passed in 2009, required graphic warnings to be prominently placed on packs of cigarettes. The law said the FDA had two years to create rules that Big Tobacco must follow regarding the warning labels.

After years of delays caused by legal challenges, the FDA said it would issue the rules on the graphic warning labels by March 2013. However, five years later, Americans are still waiting.

So, in partnership with other organizations, we filed suit against the FDA.  And on Wednesday, a U.S. District Court Judge ruled in our favor.

Judge Indira Talwani said in her ruling that the FDA now has until September 26 to provide a new timeline for issuing the rules on the graphic warnings that they had promised five years ago.

Chris Hansen, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, said, “Today’s ruling is significant and will help in the fight to improve the health of our nation and end the deadly scourge of tobacco use.”

Studies show that graphic warning labels that illustrate the deadly effect smoking has on your body are effective in getting people to quit smoking and encouraging others to not start smoking.

The current warning labels on cigarette packs in America haven’t been updated since 1984 and do not include pictures. This is compared to 122 countries around the world that require large, graphic images on their cigarette packs.

Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death in America. Our legal victory this week is another important step in the fight against tobacco.