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Press Room

Supreme Court Decision on Tobacco Warnings Will Save Lives

Note: World Lung Foundation united with The Union North America. From January 2016, the combined organization is known as “Vital Strategies.”

(New York, USA) – World Lung Foundation (WLF) today welcomed a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to reject a challenge by the tobacco industry against the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. This federal law gives the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) greater oversight over tobacco products and incorporates the introduction of mandatory graphic warnings.

Peter Baldini, Chief Executive Officer, World Lung Foundation, commented: “We welcome the Supreme Court’s decision to let stand many of the provisions of the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. One of its main elements was the introduction of pictorial warnings covering the top half of the front and back panels of cigarette packages, and the top 20 percent of printed advertising. As these warnings should have gone into effect last year, it’s now time for the FDA to move quickly to implement the critical work of effectively labelling cigarette packs.”

“The tobacco industry demonstrated its customary cynicism in using one of the cornerstones of our freedom – the First Amendment – to try to stop this law. The reason for their delay tactics is clear: research consistently shows that large, graphic warnings work, and have worked in the many countries where they are already in effect. They remind smokers each time they buy or reach for a cigarette just what they are doing to their bodies, or how their smoke harms others. Graphic images highlight the real consequences of tobacco use, encourage smokers to quit, and keep young people from taking up smoking.”

“It is time for tobacco industry interference with this crucial health measure to end. We hope the courts reject any further appeals from the industry and urge the FDA to immediately implement hard-hitting, graphic warnings that meet the letter and the sentiment of the Tobacco Control Law. The sooner these warnings are introduced, the sooner they will help save lives.”

According to the new edition of The Tobacco Atlas (, tobacco is responsible for 23% of male and female deaths in the United States. Over a fifth (21.6%) of US adult males smoke and 17.4% of adult females smoke in the US, with nearly a tenth (9.7%) of male youth are current cigarette users, as are 7.9% of female youth. Over 12% of US youths are exposed to second-hand smoke in the home. During 2000–2004, the value of cigarettes sold in the United States alone averaged $71 billion per year, while cigarette smoking was responsible for an estimated $193 billion in annual health-related economic losses.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of mortality in the world today, and is responsible for more than five million deaths each year—one in ten preventable deaths worldwide. The implementation of graphic pack warnings is one of the World Health Organization’s M-P-O-W-E-R (W=Warn) strategies to reduce tobacco consumption. MPOWER strategies are endorsed and promoted by the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use, of which World Lung Foundation is a principal partner.