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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tobacco Companies and Graphic Labels

It is no secret that smoking cigarettes kills people or can severely impact the quality of one’s life. While most smokers are aware of such dangers they continue to maintain their habit, but there are those who may have just started smoking and do not realize how seriously it can impact their life. It is for that reason that warning labels have been required for all packs of cigarettes sold. Typically the labels read as such: “Smoking Cigarettes Causes Cancer”, there are a number of organizations, as well as the FDA, which have been pushing for graphic images for warning labels, images showing actual mouth or lung cancer and even pictures of babies with words underneath that say something like ‘smoking may harm your children’. It seemed like the goal was going to be achieved until this week when a federal judge ruled that tobacco companies are not required to place such labels on their products.

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon said it is likely the companies will win a lawsuit that claims the labels violate First Amendment protections for commercial speech. Until the lawsuit is resolved tobacco companies are not required to put on the labels - this could take years, according to the AP.

The FDA wants the disturbing pictures to cover at least half of the front and back of a cigarette package by October 2012. The FDA also said the images must take up to at least 20 percent of each cigarette ad.

The new cigarette labels are a result of the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which gave the FDA authority to regulate the content, marketing and sale of tobacco products.

There is no good reason for not having the disturbing labels on each cigarette pack; people should see what they can expect from prolonged tobacco usage. Tobacco companies are worried that the images will cut profits, claiming their First Amendment rights are being violated is clearly a ‘smoke’ screen.

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