FDA cigarette warning labels lower craving and elicit frontoinsular activation in adolescent smokers

Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2015 Nov;10(11):1484-96. doi: 10.1093/scan/nsv038. Epub 2015 Apr 17.


Cigarette smoking is an economically and epidemiologically expensive public health concern. Most adult smokers become addicted during adolescence, rendering it a crucial period for prevention and intervention. Although litigation claims have delayed implementation, graphic warning labels proposed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may be a promising way to achieve this goal. We aimed to determine the efficacy of the labels in reducing in-scanner craving and to characterize the neurobiological responses in adolescent and adult smokers and non-smokers. While undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging, thirty-nine 13- to 18-year-old adolescent and forty-one 25- to 30-year-old adult smokers and non-smokers rated their desire to smoke when presented with emotionally graphic warning labels and comparison non-graphic labels. Compared with adult smokers, adolescent smokers exhibited greater craving reduction in response to the warning labels. Although smokers evinced overall blunted recruitment of insula and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) relative to non-smokers, an effect that was stronger in adolescent smokers, parametrically increasing activation of these regions was associated with greater craving reduction. Functional connectivity analyses suggest that greater DLPFC regulation of limbic regions predicted cigarette craving. These data underscore a prominent role of frontoinsular circuitry in predicting the efficacy of FDA graphic warning labels in craving reduction in adult and adolescent smokers.

Keywords: FDA warning labels; adolescent smoking; craving; frontoinsular circuitry; functional magnetic resonance imaging.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Craving / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Product Labeling*
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Smoking Cessation / psychology
  • Tobacco Products*
  • United States