The 1938 Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act was enacted because the earlier Federal Food and Drugs Act of 1906 was not worded strictly enough and did not include cosmetics. Two important concepts introduced in this new act were adulteration and misbranding. For example, false or exaggerated claims commonly were placed on new drug labels and often misled the consumer. This was considered misbranding. All controlled substances were required to be labeled “Warning: May be habit forming .” This act also provided the legal status for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Adulteration deals with the preparation and/or storage of a medication. Mishandling of the food or drug may cause injury or even death to a consumer. This act described the exact labeling for products and defined misbranding and adulteration as being illegal. The new law also required drug companies to include package inserts and directions to the consumer regarding safe use (see more information under the section titled.

May be habit forming . What does it mean? Does it say it could be addictive by making a habit?

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    Yes; "habit forming" is a gentler way of saying "addictive". Aug 5, 2015 at 18:35

1 Answer 1


"Habit forming" is a gentle colloquialism that gets used to describe two types of things:

1) Addictive substances that are legal. I often hear this phrase used to describe prescription sleep medications. The company doesn't want to admit that their product is slightly addictive, so they use a more friendly wording.

2) Non-addictive things that are NOT legal. Without incriminating myself, I can assert that there are illegal drugs that, while certainly dangerous, are not addictive. The phrase "habit-forming" gets applied to these, allowing them to be portrayed as more dangerous, without having to have scientific backing for their addictiveness.

So basically, yes. It means addictive. But generally, people will just say addictive unless something falls into one of the previous categories.

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