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Tobacco Companies Win Injunction Blocking New Mandatory (and Gnarly) Cigarette Warning Labels

Since November 2010 I've been following here and here the effort of the Food and Drug Administration to require nine new and quite graphic warning labels on cigarette packs and advertisements. As I previously summarized,

The graphic images include corpses with their chest sewed up, smokers with smoke coming out of a hole in their throatdisgusting-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's 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. The law will go into effect beginning September 2012.

In August 2011, however, four of the five largest U.S. tobacco companies filed a lawsuit against the federal government claiming that requiring the gnarly warnings to accompany 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 tobacco companies' lawsuit asked the court to prohibit the FDA from mandating the labels.

On Monday, Nedra Pickler of The Associated Press reports, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon granted the tobacco companies' request for an injunction that will prevent the FDA from requiring the warnings. Leon ruled that it is likely that the tobacco companies will prevail in their lawsuit, and issued the injunction pending the resolution of the case. In his opinion, the judge wrote that the graphic images were "calculated to provoke the viewer to quit, or never to start smoking -- an objective wholly apart from disseminating purely factual and uncontroversial information."

The AP reports that the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids has now urged the Obama administration to appeal the ruling.

Posted by Bruce Carton on November 8, 2011 at 04:16 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)


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