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Graphic warnings labels on cigarette packs could lead to 8.6 million fewer smokers in the US
Date:11/25/2013

A research paper published in the scientific journal Tobacco Control, "Cigarette graphic warning labels and smoking prevalence in Canada: a critical examination and reformulation of the FDA regulatory impact analysis", shows that graphic warning labels on cigarette packs led to a decrease in smoking rates in Canada of between 12% and 20% from 2000 to 2009. The authors estimate that if the same model was applied to the United States, the introduction of graphic warnings would potentially lead to a decrease of between 5.3 and 8.6 million smokers.

FDA model under-estimated the health impact of graphic warnings

In 2011 the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimated the impact of graphic warning labels on U.S. smoking rates, based on Canada's experience. This analysis was a key factor in an August 2012 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit that found that the FDA's analysis "essentially concedes the agency lacks any evidence that the graphic warnings are likely to reduce smoking rates."

The authors of this new scientific paper led by Jidong Huang and Frank J. Chaloupka of the University of Illinois at Chicago and Geoffrey T. Fong of the University of Waterloo and the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research in Canada assert that the model used by the FDA significantly under-estimated the actual impact of graphic warning labels. Using statistical methods to compare smoking rates in Canada nine years before and nine years after the introduction of graphic warnings, researchers found that:

  • smoking rates in Canada decreased more sharply after the introduction of graphic warnings, and
  • the sharper decrease in smoking rates in Canada was greater than the difference in smoking rates during the same two nine-year periods in the United States, where there was no change in the warnings.

This new analysis indicates that the potential reduction in smoking rates is 33-53 times
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Contact: Nick Manning
nmanning@uwaterloo.ca
519-888-4451
University of Waterloo
Source:Eurekalert

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