US Food And Drug Regulator Requests Cigarette Advertising Review
October 10, 2012

US Food And Drug Regulator Requests Cigarette Advertising Review

Connie K. Ho for — Your Universe Online

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requested reconsideration of a ruling that rejected the enforcement of explicit images on cigarette advertising and packing, the Associated Press reports.

The filing, made in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, stated that the decision by the three-judge appeals panel should be reviewed. According to Bloomberg News, the panel decided that the requirement of explicit images of health problems was a violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the free speech rights of tobacco companies.

Last August, the court ruled that the FDA´s decision to include the phone number 1-800-QUIT-NOW with image warnings were “unabashed attempts to evoke emotion” and “browbeat consumers” to not buy cigarettes. The 2-1 ruling noted that the government did not show sufficient evidence that the rules on cigarette advertising and packaging would lead to a decrease in smoking rates.

“The First Amendment does not require statistical proof of the extent to which the decline in smoking rates resulted ℠directly´ from the new health warnings,” the FDA countered in the filing.

According to The Business Journal, tobacco companies such as Reynolds American Inc. and Lorillard Inc. called out the FDA for its new labels. The images of health problems associated with smoking were to be placed on cigarette packing starting in September. In March, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati found that the labels are constitutional and the images should be permitted on the cigarette packaging. However, as there is disagreement on the FDA regulations in two different locations, it is most likely that the issue will be settled in the U.S. Supreme Court.

The graphic warnings were originally created to help limit children from picking up the habit and to help adults quit smoking.

“President Obama is committed to protecting our nation´s children and the American people from the dangers of tobacco use. These labels are frank, honest and powerful depictions of the health risks of smoking and they will help encourage smokers to quit, and prevent children from smoking,” said Kathleen Sebelius, Health and Human Services Secretary, in a prepared statement that was released last June. “President Obama wants to make tobacco-related death and disease part of the nation´s past, and not our future.”

With cases like these, smoking continues to be a contentious topic among various groups. Health organizations such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highlight the health effects related to smoking. The CDC stated that smoking could impact every organ in the body, causing a variety of diseases and lowering the longevity of smokers. Smoking can increase the risk of coronary heart disease, lung cancer, stroke, among other illnesses. It also impacts an individual´s reproductive health, upping the risk for infertility, preterm delivery and stillbirth for pregnant females.

As well, the CDC noted that cigarette and smokeless tobacco companies spend a large chunk of their revenues on marketing. In 2006, cigarette companies spent $12.4 billion on advertising and marketing. If the total was broken down, the money spent on marketing amounted to $34 million a day, $42 per person in the United States, and over $275 for every smoker in the U.S. who was at least 18 years of age. Tobacco companies have particularly focused on marketing cigarettes to middle school and high school students and women, as well as specific racial groups like Hispanics and American Indians/Alaska Natives.