News & Comment

US tobacco companies sue over graphic warning labels

Tue 16th August, 2011

Five tobacco companies have sued the US Food and Drug Administration over a law that would force them to place graphic health warnings on cigarette packets.

In a 41-page complaint, the five companies – RJ Reynolds Tobacco, Lorillard Tobacco, Commonwealth Brands, Liggett Group and Santa Fe Natural Tobacco – say the new labels would illegally force them to make consumers "depressed, discouraged and afraid" to buy their products.

"The government can require warnings which are straightforward and essentially uncontroversial, but they can't require a cigarette pack to serve as a mini-billboard for the government's anti-smoking campaign," Floyd Abrams, a lawyer representing the cigarette makers, said in a statement.

He added that the new labels would violate the companies' free-speech rights under the first amendment to the constitution.
Cigarette makers lost a similar suit last year in a US district court in Kentucky when a judge said the FDA could move ahead with forcing the companies to use the new labels, which include images of dead bodies, diseased lungs and rotten teeth.

Source: BBC News (16 August 2011)

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