Graphic Warning Labels Ruled Unconstitutional

Tobacco companies win lawsuit against FDA.

U.S. Federal District Judge Richard Leon yesterday, Wednesday, Feb. 29, ruled that the 36 graphic cigarette warning labels the FDA sought to require tobacco manufacturers to cover cigarette packs with are unconstitutional, Adweek reported.

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Lorillard Tobacco Co., Commonwealth Brands Inc., Liggett Group LLC, and Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co. had brought the suit against the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), saying the mandatory warnings violated the First Amendment because they went beyond factual and neutral disclosures.

Judge Leon in his ruling formalized the preliminary injunction he issued in November that blocked the FDA from requiring the companies to place the labels on the packages by September 2012.

The labels, originally proposed in November 2010 as required under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Act, which was signed into law by President Obama in June 2009, were meant to deter people from smoking by depicting grotesque images.

The government is expected to appeal the court’s ruling.

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