Sarah Ford | December 12, 2013

New Study: FDA Vastly Underestimated How Much Graphic Cigarette Warnings Would Reduce Smoking in U.S.

A new study in the scientific journal Tobacco Control provides powerful new evidence that graphic warning labels on cigarette packs are effective in reducing smoking rates. The study also finds that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) vastly underestimated the impact that proposed graphic warnings would have in reducing smoking in the United States.

In June 2011, when the FDA issued regulations requiring graphic warnings, the agency estimated the impact on U.S. smoking rates based on Canada’s experience after it adopted graphic warnings in 2000. The new study concludes that the FDA’s analysis was “flawed” and greatly underestimated the actual impact of graphic warnings on smoking rates in Canada — and therefore the likely impact in the U.S. The study’s main findings include:

  • The graphic warnings reduced smoking rates in Canada by 12 to 20 percent from 2000 to 2009. Based on these findings, the study concludes that the impact of graphic warnings on smoking rates in the U.S. would have been 33 to 53 times larger than the FDA estimated.
  • Had the graphic warnings been implemented in the U.S. in 2012 as planned, they would have led to a decrease of between 5.3 and 8.6 million smokers.

This study’s findings are critically important because the FDA’s flawed analysis was a key factor in the August 2012 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit that struck down the proposed warnings. Based on the FDA’s conclusion that the proposed warnings would have only a slight impact on smoking rates, the court found that the FDA’s analysis “essentially concedes the agency lacks any evidence that the graphic warnings are likely to reduce smoking rates.” As a result, the court found that the FDA had not met the legal requirement of demonstrating that the proposed warnings would directly advance a substantial government interest.

As a result of this study, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids has…

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Source: Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

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