What the 9 Gross New Cigarette Warning Labels Look Like

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Cigarette graphics have been overhauled for the first time in more than 25 years—and starting in 2012, here's what you'll see

It's not news that smoking is bad for your health—tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. And thanks to a public health policy that has informed Americans through warning labels and education, smoking rates have been declining steadily for the last 40 years. That is until recently. The Food and Drug Administration reports that these rates have stalled. 20.6 percent of adults and 19.5 percent of teens have picked up the habit.

Given the obvious benefits of aspiring to make the U.S. smoke-free, the Department of Human Health and Services has made its anti-smoking campaign a top priority, and as part of that plan the FDA, for the first time in more than 25 years, has developed new graphics and warning labels for cigarette products and ads. The images shown above are the nine unpleasant options. As of September 2012, these graphics will appear on the top half of cigarette boxes and the top 20 percent of cigarette advertisements.

The gruesome new labels look much more like the aggressive graphics that other countries, notably Australia, have adopted. Tobacco companies have to choose only one of the nine options, some of which are much more graphic than others. (The man with a hole in his throat seems more offensive than the man who has already quit smoking—he looks pretty happy and healthy.) The FDA expects the new marketing will frighten people. According to the agency's website, "The new warnings serve as reminder of the negative health consequences of smoking every time someone picks up a pack of cigarettes or views a cigarette advertisement."

Images: FDA

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Rebecca Greenfield is a writer based in Brooklyn. She was formerly on staff at The Atlantic Wire.

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