Five of the largest tobacco companies in the U.S. are taking the federal government to court because they feel like their rights are being infringed upon by having to put new warning labels on their cigarettes.
Basically they're suing because they aren't taking enough money from potential people they could be killing.
"The primary complaint is that we think it violates the First Amendment for the government to require people who produce a lawful product to essentially urge prospective purchasers not to buy it," says Floyd Abrams, a prominent First Amendment case expert who's representing the plaintiffs.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, pits R.J. Reynolds, Lorillard, Commonwealth, Liggett, and Santa Fe Natural Tobacco against the Food and Drug Administration, its chief, Margaret Hamburg, and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
"The government has lot of power to require warnings, but it doesn't require half of a cigarette pack to scream out, 'Don't buy this product!," the New York-based attorney says. "What is at issue is putting photographs of diseased people on every cigarette pack, include a phone number, and ask people to stop smoking. It's the direct advocacy to not buy the product, as opposed to a straightforward warning."
What we hear is a lot of bitching. Bitching because the FDA wants to inform and deter people (mainly kids) from starting an addictive habit that causes cancer.
Argue all you want for free speech (which we support in most cases that aren't actually about something else) but when it comes down to it, you guys said your true reason in the argument — "it's a direct advocacy to not buy the product" — so don't act like it's about anything but greed.
How is that not evil in its purest?
Sure, what you might be losing is death money, but what the nation gains is an opportunity, "resulting in lives saved, increased life expectancy, and lower medical costs."
Sounds worth it to us to take up half the space on a pack of cigarettes.
We hope you guys waste a ton of money in litigation, that's for sure.
[Image via AP Images.]