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Judge Rules FDA Mandated Warning Labels For Cigarettes Are Unconstitutional

Filed under: Legal MattersBarack ObamaSad SadAddictionSmoking

Tobacco labels

Boo!

The latest effort to stop the #1 most preventable death in the country has been shut down (for now) by U.S. District Judge Richard Leon.

The FDA and Obama Administration passed regulations requiring tobacco companies to place graphic warning labels covering 50% of the packaging, 20% of a cigarette ad, along with a hotline for smokers to quit. Since the tobacco companies realized they may lose a lot of money as a result of the new legislation, they filed a lawsuit against the government and temporarily blocked the usage of the labels (which are used in 43 other countries).

We were hoping the block was only temporary and the government would win this fight, but Judge Leon shattered our dreams on Wednesday when he ruled that the controversial labels were unconstitutional because they violate tobacco's right to free-speech. The judge explained his decision in a 19-page ruling, reading:

"The government has failed to carry both its burden of demonstrating a compelling interest and its burden of demonstrating that the rule is narrowly tailored to achieve a constitutionally permissible form of compelled commercial speech."

A spokesman from the tobacco group that challenged the labels in court said this in response to their favorable ruling:

"We believe governments, public health officials, tobacco manufacturers and others share a responsibility to provide tobacco consumers with accurate information about the various health risks associated with smoking. However, the goal of informing the public about the risks of tobacco use can and should be accomplished consistent with the U.S. Constitution."

Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, questioned the ruling by pointing out that it "ignores decades of First Amendment precedent that support the right of the government to require strong warning labels to protect the public health."

Much like the federal government appealed Judge Leon's initial block of the warning labels, which were scheduled to go in effect this September, government officials will most likely appeal this decision too.

We are deeply saddened that the courts have chosen to side with an industry that only cares about profits and not the people its products are killing.

The FDA's graphic labels would have definitely helped scare off kids considering picking up a pack to fit in with their peers, but like it always has been, it's up to U to educate them about the dangers of smoking!

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Judge Blocks Use Of Graphic Warning Labels On Cigarette Packages

Filed under: Legal MattersBarack ObamaHealthAddictionSmoking

Tobacco labels

Boo! Such a bummer!

We were SO happy to hear about the mandatory graphic warning labels that the FDA imposed for all tobacco companies to display on cigarette packages.

Unfortunately, we're sad to report that the tobacco industry may have successfully blocked the government's efforts to visually depict how damaging their product really is.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon blocked the federal requirement because he felt the pictures were not accurate portrayals of the effects from smoking and instead were designed to exploit the facts, explaining:

"It is abundantly clear from viewing these images that the emotional response they were crafted to induce is calculated to provoke the viewer to quit, or never to start smoking – an objective wholly apart from disseminating purely factual and uncontroversial information."

The images depicting the harmful effects of smoking were to cover at least 20% of the package, but Judge Leon felt the labels would amount to a "mini-billboard" for the agency's "obvious anti-smoking agenda."

The strict requirement, originally expected to be implemented next year, has now been blocked until the tobacco industry's lawsuit is resolved.

Basically, don't expect to see the controversial labels that are used in 43 other countries anytime soon in the US.

Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, urged the Obama administration to appeal the ruling, saying:

"Studies around the world and evidence presented to the FDA have repeatedly shown that large, graphic warnings, like those adopted by the FDA, are most effective at informing consumers about the health risks of smoking, discouraging children and other nonsmokers from starting to smoke, and motivating smokers to quit. Because of that evidence, at least 43 other countries now require large, graphic cigarette warnings."

It's such a shame that corporate greed has once again won in court. While the tobacco industry filed the lawsuit against the FDA's labels in an effort to save profits, the courts forgot that the labels were created to save lives.

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