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Tobacco Companies Ask Court to Put a Halt to FDA's Graphic Warning Labels

Smoker Back in November 2010, I discussed here the nine new, and quite graphic, warning labels that the Food and Drug Administration planned to require on cigarette packs and advertisements. The graphic images include corpses with their chest sewed up, smokers with smoke coming out of a hole in their throat, disgusting-looking lungs that are yellow and diseased from smoking, a close-up of someone with mouth cancer, a suffering baby, and so on. If the purpose of the new warning labels is to convey the message that smoking is dangerous and gnarly, then mission accomplished.

The FDA previously explained that the new campaign is the result of "The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act," which requires larger and more visible graphic health warnings on cigarette packages and ads. According to the FDA website, the new cigarette health warnings are the first change in cigarette warnings in more than 25 years, and will go into effect beginning September 2012.

There is at least one group, however, that is not at all pleased about the new warnings. Can you guess who that might be? Correct!

This week, four of the five largest U.S. tobacco companies filed a lawsuit against the federal government. The Associated Press reports that the plaintiffs include R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Lorillard Tobacco Co., Commonwealth Brands Inc., Liggett Group LLC and Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company Inc., but not Altria Group Inc., which controls the largest cigarette maker, Philip Morris USA.

The lawsuit alleges that requiring the tobacco companies to add these warnings to their product will violate their free speech rights; cost millions of dollars to print; and require them to feature anti-smoking advocacy more prominently than their own brands. The AP reports that in the lawsuit, the plaintiffs argue that:

Never before in the United States have producers of a lawful product been required to use their own packaging and advertising to convey an emotionally-charged government message urging adult consumers to shun their products.

The tobacco companies are asking the court to prohibit the FDA from mandating the labels.

Posted by Bruce Carton on August 18, 2011 at 01:19 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)

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