(Access to Coverage of Tobacco Treatment In Our Nation)
Shaping Policies | Improving Health
March 1, 2012 A federal mandate requiring tobacco companies to place graphic images on their products warning of the dangers of smoking was tossed out Wednesday by a judge in Washington, with the judge saying the requirements were a violation of free speech. The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act passed in 2009 would have required nine alternating graphic health warnings covering half of cigarette packs and 20% of cigarette advertisements. A group of tobacco companies led by R.J. Reynolds and Lorillard had sued, saying the warnings would be cost-prohibitive, and would dominate and damage the packaging and promotion of their brands. The legal question was whether the new labeling was purely factual and accurate in nature or was designed to discourage use of the products. Federal Judge Richard Leon ruled that the graphic warning requirement was a violation of the First Amendment, saying the graphic images “were crafted to evoke a strong emotional response calculated to provoke the viewer to quit or never start smoking.”
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