A federal court on Monday temporarily blocked a government plan to cover cigarette packs with grisly warning labels. Judge Richard Leon of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that there is a clear line between “impermissible expropriation” of the tobacco companies’ packaging and “constitutionally permissible dissemination” of information, and ordered the Federal Drug Administration regulation be put on hold until 15 months after a final ruling on the tobacco companies’ lawsuit. Court watchers predict the free-speech case will ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court.
FROM 6-21-2011: Warning labels anything but smooth
In an effort to curb smoking-related deaths, the Food and Drug Administration is revising cigarette warning labels — on “all cigarette packaging and advertisements in the United States” — to include such images as cancerous mouths, blackened lungs and even a corpse. The FDA on Tuesday released images of the graphic new warnings, which will start appearing in September 2012.
The gory labels are part of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which Congress passed in 2009. The act grants the FDA authority over the industry’s marketing and advertising efforts, prompting R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, Lorillard Inc., and several other tobacco companies to sue, arguing a violation of free speech rights. The companies argued the law interferes with communication with adult consumers, advertisers and other tobacco companies.
Although a judge later struck down part of the federal law — a section banning the use of color and graphics in labels and advertising — most of the act was upheld, including the requirement for new health warnings.
What do you think of this attempt to deter smoking?
Too much? Not enough?