Next Tuesday, the federal appeals court in Washington will hear arguments on two related rulings by a Federal District Court judge, Richard Leon, blocking implementation of the new labeling plan. As reported by the Newy York Times, Judge Leon concluded that the government’s prominent use of emotionally charged images “calculated to provoke the viewer to quit” smoking crossed a line. They went from conveying uncontroversial factual information, he said, to compelling tobacco firms to advance the government’s “obvious anti-smoking agenda” in violation of their free speech rights.
The New York Times has published an article criticizing the lower court's opinion and arguing for its reversal. It starts by stating that "[t]he tobacco industry has never been bashful about fighting back against attempts to regulate the promotion of its deadly, addictive products. The latest is an effort to derail new regulations requiring large health warnings on cigarette packages by making baseless First Amendment claims" It ends by arguing that reversing the lower courts ruling "should be an easy call."
The Blog of the Legal Times has more on the story. For all my previous posts on this subject go here (where the posts are in reverse chronological order.)