RICHMOND, Va. — In the most significant change to U.S. cigarette packs in 25 years, the Food and Drug Administration today is due to release nine new warning labels that will depict in graphic detail the negative health effects of tobacco use. Among the possible images are rotting and diseased teeth and gums and a man with a tracheotomy smoking.

The labels will take up the top half of a pack – both front and back. Warning labels also must appear in advertisements and constitute 20 percent of an ad. Cigarette makers have until the fall of 2012 to comply.

Mandates to introduce new graphic warning labels were part of a law passed in 2009 that, for the first time, gave the federal government authority to regulate tobacco, including setting guidelines for marketing and labeling, banning certain products and limiting nicotine. The law doesn’t let the FDA ban nicotine or tobacco.

The announcement follows reviews of scientific literature, public comments and results from an FDA-contracted study of 36 labels proposed last November, which included corpses of smokers, cancer patients and diseased lungs.

Some of the labels proposed last year include a mother blowing smoke in her baby’s face and cigarettes being flushed down the toilet to signify quitting. They include phrases like “Smoking can kill you” and “Cigarettes cause cancer” and feature graphic images to convey the dangers of tobacco, which is responsible for about 443,000 deaths in the United States per year.

Whether the federal government chose to go with more hard-hitting images for the new labels or more subtle messages like illustrations of a smoker being controlled by strings like a marionette remains a question.

In recent years, more than 30 countries or jurisdictions have introduced labels similar to those being introduced by the FDA. The United States first mandated the use of warning labels saying “Cigarettes may be hazardous to your health” in 1965. Current warning labels – a small box with black and white text — were put on cigarette packs in the mid-1980s.

The new labels come as the share of Americans who smoke has fallen dramatically since 1970, from nearly 40 percent to about 20 percent.

The rate has stalled since around 2004. About 46 million adults in the United States smoke cigarettes.