American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown says Graphic Warning Labels are Critical to Reducing Global Tobacco Epidemic

May 26, 2011, 13:14 ET from American Heart Association

WASHINGTON, May 26, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As federal regulators finalize pending rules for cigarette warning labels in the U.S., it's important to note the tremendous impact of graphic labels and statements in countries where tobacco use is deeply embedded in the culture.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, "Cigarette Package Health Warnings and Interest in Quitting Smoking," states prominent warnings on cigarette packages in countries with high adult smoking rates have been most effective in encouraging smokers to quit.  The findings demonstrate the undeniable influence of large, graphic warning labels on individuals who smoke manufactured cigarettes.

Specific messages and graphic depictions of smoking-related diseases have great potential to curb a global tobacco epidemic. They can make individuals think twice about starting a deadly habit and encourage smokers to quit and improve their cardiovascular and overall health. Tobacco-related illnesses kill more than five million people worldwide each year.  In the U.S. alone, about one-third of smoking-related deaths are linked to heart disease and stroke. We strongly believe that graphic warnings labels that convey information about the health risks of smoking can also discourage smoking initiation among youth and former smokers.

The American Heart Association recommends expanding the label statement and warning requirement to include information on smoking cessation resources.  The Food and Drug Administration should require manufacturers to include referrals to government-run smoking cessation resources such as 1-800-quit-now and on tobacco product packages and advertising.  By including these resources along with the required label statements and graphic warnings, tobacco users would not only be told how bad tobacco use is, but also how to quit. 

The online version of the journal can be found at

SOURCE American Heart Association