Graphing Warnings on Cigarettes, Blocked By US Court

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Graphic warning on cigarette packaging has been a huge issue in the health sector, as well as the tobacco manufacturing arena. Because of the increasing number of people suffering from lung cancer and other smoking related conditions, many government agencies have stepped up towards making the public more aware of the ill effects of cigarette smoking. One of the things lobbied in the congress is the placement of graphic warnings in cigarette packaging, which is highly contested as of this very moment.

Last Monday, a US judge hindered the government’s attempt to include graphic warning labels on cigarette packages. The said US judge mentioned that huge tobacco companies are more likely to win the government over because such ordinance or law is violative of the freedom of speech.

The warning labels are in full color and include, among many other graphic warnings pictures of diseased lungs, cancerous mouth lesions, etc. These images would serve as “mini billboards” for the US government. More than that, the US District Judge Richard Leon said that this is the government’s “obvious anti-smoking agenda.”

The said cigarette warnings may cover about half of the front space of each cigarette pack which is located on the upper part of the packaging for it to become more visible in store displays. In relation to this proposed bill, the Lorillard, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Commonwealth Brands, Inc., Liggett Group LLC, and Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company have filed a lawsuit against the government in an attempt to block the US FDA and the Department of Health and Human Services from passing the said proposal in 2012.

The first amendment to the US Constitution is said to be a giveaway success for the tobacco companies because it guarantees freedom of speech, religion and assembly. Apart from the protection of free speech of an individual, the said amendment also protects the consumers against “compelled commercial speech” as ruled by the said judge.

“The court concludes that plaintiffs have demonstrated a substantial likelihood that they will prevail on the merits of their position that these mandatory graphic images unconstitutionally compel speech, and that they will suffer irreparable harm,” said Leon in his ruling. “Accordingly, the plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction is granted.”

The said proposal to include labels in cigarettes have been announced by the US government last year and were called for in a 2009 law signed by the President of the US. In the said law which was signed by Obama, the Food and Drug Administration was given the power to regulate production and marketing of tobacco products.

From a numerous proposed images, and after factoring in the comments of 18,000 people and 1,700 public comments, the FDA picked about 36 images. The said warning labels are also included with a phone number for quit-smoking help groups.

“Congress carefully considered the First Amendment issues involved and carefully tailored the legislation to ensure the FDA could act as it has proposed with graphic warning labels for tobacco products,” according to Waxman, who is an advocate of the said graphic labels.

“I believe that, on further judicial review, these public health protections will be affirmed and permitted to go into effect next year.”





  1. i would hate to get oral with that mouth i think id rather fuck myself

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