November 30, 2011
FDA Appeals Ruling Against Graphic Images On Cigarette Packaging
A ruling and injunction by District Judge Richard Leon blocking tobacco companies from being forced to display graphic images on cigarette packs and advertising, was appealed on Tuesday by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Judge Leon, in the widely expected ruling, said the tobacco companies would likely succeed in their challenge to the new warnings as unconstitutional because it compels speech in violation of the First Amendment and would cause them irreparable harm if not blocked, Jeremy Pelofsky and Anna Yukhananov report for Reuters.
The graphic images include photos of pictures of diseased lungs, a man exhaling smoke from a tracheotomy hole in his throat and other disturbing images prominently featured on the packaging.
The judge claimed the graphic images were not narrowly tailored and were unlikely to survive a constitutional review. He said they provoked an emotional response rather than just providing factual and noncontroversial information, crossing the line into using company advertising for government advocacy.
Lorillard attorney, Floyd Abrams, said in a phone interview with Bloomberg's Andrew Harris that he wasn´t surprised by the FDA´s notice of appeal. “We´ll have to wait and see what they have to say” in the appellate brief, Abrams said. He declined to comment further.
In June of 2009, President Barack Obama signed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act into law, empowering the FDA to regulate the manufacture and sale of tobacco products.
Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States, accounting for one in every five deaths every year, reports Andrew Harris for Bloomberg. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 21 percent of US adults still smoke cigarettes, a number little changed since 2004.
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