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Designing your new package can be an exciting process, especially if you are a creative individual.

The FDA Takes Over Package Design. There are endless possibilities when it comes to picking the colors, graphics and framework of the package. But sometimes this process isn’t totally up to you. That is what is happening now with tobacco companies and cigarettes. According to an article from MSNBC, the FDA requires tobacco companies to place warning labels on their packaging with very specific guidelines. They have also released gruesome pictures of body parts to be put onto cigarette boxes in order to show consumers what this product may do to you. Of course these companies are trying to fight back calling these pictures a violation of free speech and frightening to their customers.

This article brings up a great argument. It is important to be creative and strategic with your packaging design, but what happens when the government interferes with this process? This problem mainly arises with anything that will be ingested, like food products, medicine and vitamins, but it can affect any product that could potentially cause someone harm if used incorrectly. The FDA even regulates the packaging on something as simple as ice.

We have worked with many clients who sell food products and supplements. The client may tell us they want a clean simple look, but in the end we must always make sure to abide by any regulations that are in place. This can be a real hassle since you can never really create the full look of the package that you wish. In regards to the tobacco industry, putting a disgusting picture on cigarettes that covers 50% of the package not only hinders the creativity that goes into their packaging, but also prevents them from getting new customers. What if the government one day decided that all high-heeled shoes must have a tag attached to them with a picture of a misshapen foot explaining the dangers of wearing this type of shoe? These companies would probably not be too thrilled with that idea.

The main problem I see is that people pretty much already understand the consequences of smoking a cigarette or drinking too many beers, and adding a gross picture on the label is not going to stop these people from buying the products. What these regulations do end up doing is taking away the creative freedoms of the company and their rights to create their package the way they envision. I understand that the FDA is trying to protect the public with these mandatory warnings, but I feel that people are well aware of the risks given all the information we now have on the internet, magazines, health shows, and anti-drug commercials. It is always important to educate the public, but people must be able to make good choices for themselves and if they still decide to ruin their health, it is not anyone else’s fault but their own.

New regulations have recently been made for sunscreen labels. There are certain phrases, such as sweatproof, that are put onto sunscreen labels that are now being banned. Companies can no longer call their product “sunblock” as it will mislead consumers to overestimate the product’s effectiveness, it must now only be referred to as sunscreen. Companies are not allowed to claim SPF of more than 50 unless they can prove it provides more protection. The whole idea behind these rules is to ensure that people reapply their sunscreen periodically to prevent sunburn and cancer. If you want to read more about the sunscreen regulations, you can check out the full details here. This infographic from below summarizes the new guidelines.

Do you think the FDA should be able to regulate product packaging? The FDA Takes Over Package Design. How much is too much?

FDA sunscreen infographic

FDA tobacco infographic taken from

About the Author

Xavier Cimetta

Xavier Cimetta is part owner and the head Designer/Front-end developer at Cimetta Design, Inc. As an entrepreneur and work-a-holic, his mission is to help fellow entrepreneurs & businesses design beautiful brands, websites, packaging and experiences to reach their goals.

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