New Cigarette Warnings Working Even Before They’re on Packs
Media coverage of graphic labels prompts surge in quitline calls
Posted by: Editor | Jul 5, 2011
The Food and Drug Administration's new, graphic warning labels for cigarette packs already have started working: Calls to the 1-800-QUIT-NOW number that appears on the warning labels spiked the day the images hit the media, and call volume stayed unusually high for a week.
On June 21, the day the FDA unveiled the labels that depict diseased lungs, a corpse, and other images showing the true health effects of smoking, there were 4,803 calls to the toll-free quitline number, more than double the number received a week earlier, June 14. Call volume remained elevated for the entire first week after the new labels received widespread attention in the media.
|Before Warning Labels Announcement||After Warning Labels Announcement|
|Date||Number of Calls||Date||Number of Calls|
|Tue. June 14||2,072||Tue. June 21||4,803|
|Wed. June 15||2,078||Wed. June 22||3,262|
|Thur. June 16||2,068||Thur. June 23||2,275|
|Fri. June 17||1,862||Fri. June 24||2,064|
|Sat. June 18||1,065||Sat. June 25||1,103|
|Sun. June 19||929||Sun. June 26||961|
|Mon. June 20||1,971||Mon. June 27||2,282|
Source: National Cancer Institute
The evidence that warning labels work is solid and extensive. Studies around the world have repeatedly shown that large, pictorial warnings are most effective at informing consumers about the health risks of smoking, discouraging children and other nonsmokers from starting to smoke, and motivating smokers to quit.
The new U.S. labels will be required on packs starting September, 2012. They will replace smaller, black-and-white text labels that have been in use for more than 25 years and go unnoticed on the sides of packs.
The new, pictorial labels must cover the entire top half of each cigarette pack and 20 percent of cigarette ads. Congress required the graphic labels as part of the 2009 law giving the FDA the authority to regulate the manufacture, marketing and sale of tobacco products.
The law isn't only a landmark, bipartisan political achievement: It's already shown its potential to save lives.