Monday, September 26, 2011
New graphic warning labels for cigarettes -- UPDATED
Back in June I reported that the FDA has mandated a significant change in the way cigarette manufacturers warn consumers about the risks of smoking. The goal is clear, as expressed by the WSJ law blog... "to scare the bejeezus out of people."
The new labels must occupy the top half of the front and back of a cigarette pack, and the various images will be accompanied by messages such as “Smoking can kill you.”
One question left yet to be addressed is whether cigarette manufacturers will sue FDA arguing that its graphic-labeling rule violate their constitutional rights to free speech, as it has done in the past.
Go here for the full story.
UPDATE (8/17/11): The blog of the Legal Times is reporting today that five of the nation's largest cigarette manufacturers filed suit against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration challenging the new regulations that require them to print graphic images depicting the health risks of smoking on cigarette packaging and advertisements. First Amendment veteran Floyd Abrams, who is representing the tobacco companies, has stated that "It violates the First Amendment to require the manufacturer of a lawful product to be required to use half of its package essentially to urge people not to buy the product."
This will be a very interesting case, so stay tuned. The Wall Street Journal law blog and Prof. Jonathan Turley have more on the story here and here (make sure you check out the comments). The First Amendment Center has more here. For a copy of the complaint, go here.
UPDATE #2: The FDA law blog has more on the story here.
UPDATE #3: Here's part of the complaint's introduction, which summarizes the industry's First Amendment challenge: "These requirements force [the tobacco industry], not to convey purely factual and uncontroversial statements about the risks of tobacco use, but rather to become a mouthpiece for the Government's emotionally-charged anti-smoking campaign. ... This is precisely the type of compelled speech the First Amendment prohibits." Public Citizen has more here.
UPDATE #4: (8/19/11): Tobacco Companies Seek Injunction to Delay Production of Graphic Labels
UPDATE #5 (9/12/11): The FDA has filed its opposition brief in the lawsuit filed by five of the nation's largest cigarette manufacturers to block any delay to new regulations requiring graphic warning labels on cigarette packages. Go to the Wall Street Journal law blog for more.
UPDATE #6 (9/26/11): U.S. District Judge Richard Leon heard oral arguments last Wednesday, focusing much of his time on pressing the government to define where the line is drawn between fact-based warnings and advocacy. Leon also noted that regardless of how he ruled, he expected that the losing side would appeal. The Blog of the Legal Times has more details here.
UPDATE #7 (11/7/11): Judge grants injunction stopping the implementation of the new FDA rules regarding cigarette warning labels