Cigarette Warning Labels Cause Increase to National Quit Line

One of the new proposed cigarette warning labels to be required by the FDA in Sept 2012. Current and former smokers are at increased risk from lung cancer.
Cigarette warning labels that contain graphic images are having the desired effect: calls into a national smoker's quit line more than doubled the day the altered packages were unveiled.

Though the new packages won't hit retailers shelves until next year, they were revealed to the media last week.

Calls to the national 1-800-QUIT-NOW smoking cessation hot line hit 4,800 calls that Tuesday and 3,200 the next day: a typical Tuesday or Wednesday sees about 2,000 calls.

The new labels included pictures of diseased lungs, rotting teeth and decaying gums. They carry the 1-800-QUIT-NOW number, which the old labels did not. The new labels will replace the traditional small, white "Surgeon General's Warning" strips of text formerly placed on the side of cigarette packs. The new labels will cover the entire top half of the packs.

The changes represent the first made to cigarette packaging in over 25 years. The first change mandated was the inclusion of the phrase "Cigarettes may be hazardous to your health," in 1965. Current warning labels, the aforementioned "Surgeon General's Warning," made their debut in the mid-1980s. 

The total amount of Americans who smoke has fallen drastically since 1970, from around 40 percent to approximately 20 percent. The rate has stalled since about 2004--currently around 46 million adults in the U.S. smoke cigarettes. The Food and Drug Administration estimates the new labels will reduce the number of smokers by 213,000 in 2013, with additional reductions continuing through 2031.  

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