WASHINGTON, Nov. 10, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
The United States is tied for last in the world in the size of warning labels required on cigarette packs, according to a new international report issued today by the Canadian Cancer Society. The report shows that at least 105 countries and territories now require graphic cigarette warnings (also called pictorial warnings), with 95 of them requiring warnings that cover at least 50 percent (on average) of the front and back of the pack. In contrast, the U.S. has text-only warnings that appear on the sides of cigarette packs and haven't been updated since 1985. Studies have found that the U.S. warnings have become stale and unnoticed. This report shows the U.S. has fallen woefully behind the rest of the world in requiring strong and effective cigarette warnings that reduce smoking and save lives. It provides yet another reason why the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should move quickly to comply with a 2009 federal law that requires graphic warnings covering the top half of the front and back of cigarette packs and 20 percent of cigarette advertising. Americans deserve this basic public health protection that 58 percent of the world's population now receives. Last month, eight public health and medical groups (including the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids), and several individual pediatricians, filed suit in federal court in Boston to force the FDA to comply with the law and issue a final rule requiring the graphic warnings on cigarette packs and advertising. The FDA's initial attempt to require graphic warnings was blocked in 2012 by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which ruled 2-1 that the specific warnings proposed by the FDA violated the First Amendment. However, ruling in a separate case in 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld the law's underlying requirement for graphic warnings, finding this provision did not violate the First Amendment. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a tobacco industry appeal of this ruling.