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Graphic warning labels on cigarette packages reduce smoking rates
Date:11/25/2013

The U.S. would have several million fewer smokers if graphic warning labels similar to those introduced in Canada nearly a decade ago were required on cigarette packs, according to researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Waterloo.

The Canadian labels led to a 2.9 to 4.7 percentage point drop in smoking rates -- which would mean 5.3 to 8.6 million fewer smokers in the U.S. if the same result were obtained. The findings are published online in the journal Tobacco Control.

The researchers used statistical methods to compare smoking rates in the U.S. and Canada for a nine-year period before and after the graphic warning labels were introduced in Canada. The price of cigarettes were factored into the analyses.

The study found the "regulatory impact analysis" used by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to gauge the effectiveness of Canada's graphic warning labels to be inaccurate. The FDA had estimated only a 0.088 percentage point reduction in smoking rates after graphic warning labels were mandated in Canada.

Jidong Huang, research specialist at UIC's Institute for Health Research and Policy and lead author of the new study, said when he and his collaborators corrected the FDA's methodological flaws and took into account the purchase prices paid by smokers, they found that graphic warning labels reduce cigarette-smoking prevalence at much higher rates.

Graphic warning labels on cigarette packages have been implemented in more than 40 countries, but not in the U.S.

In 2009, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act gave the FDA authority to regulate the manufacture, distribution and marketing of tobacco products, including requiring prominent warning labels for cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products. However, the tobacco industry challenged the FDA's requirement for graphic warning labels, and a U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the federal agency lacked e
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Contact: Sherri McGinnis Gonzalez
smcginn@uic.edu
312-996-8277
University of Illinois at Chicago
Source:Eurekalert

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