What were the goals of the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act of 1965?

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The Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act of 1966 (Public Law 89-92; 15 USC 1331-1340) was a law passed by Congress for the purpose of regulating the packaging and marketing of cigarettes.  Concerned about the increasingly irrefutable linkage between cigarette smoking and serious respiratory ailments like lung cancer and emphysema, the federal government established a series of regulations intended to warn the American public about the dangers of cigarette smoking and to force the tobacco industry to package its products in a more uniform manner, including highly-visible warnings regarding the dangers associated with smoking.  The first section of the Act states Congress’s intentions and establishes as U.S. Government policy the need to caution smokers about the ramifications of their habits.  The first part of that declaration reads as follows:

“It is the policy of the Congress, and the purpose of this chapter, to establish a comprehensive Federal Program to deal with cigarette labeling and advertising with respect to any relationship between smoking and health, whereby—

(1)    the public may be adequately informed about any adverse health effects of cigarette smoking by inclusion of warning notices on each package of cigarettes and in each advertisement of cigarettes . . .”

Another major reform included in the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act was its prohibition on the use of electronic forms of communication (i.e., television and radio) to advertise cigarettes and cigars. 

The Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act would be amended twenty years later with passage of the Comprehensive Smoking Education Act of 1986, and again in 2009 with the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.  The passage of these latter two series of laws is testament to the enduring difficulties the government has experienced in its attempts at curbing the consumption of tobacco products.  Both represented additional attempts at regulating the tobacco industry and educating the public regarding the dangers of cigarette smoking.