Are graphic cancer warnings on cigarettes beyond the pale?
Judge blocks federal requirement to place gruesome ads on cigarette packs
A plan to plaster gruesome advertisements warning smokers about the
dangers associated with cigarette smoking has been put on hold. A judge
has blocked the new federal requirement. U.S. District Judge Richard
Leon ruled that it's likely "Big Tobacco" will succeed in a lawsuit to
block the new warning labels, so he stopped the requirement until after
the lawsuit is resolved - which may take years.
A judge found the nine graphic images approved by the Food and Drug Administration in June go far beyond in depicting the facts about smoking's health risks. He says that the ads veer into advocacy, a critical distinction in free speech cases.
These companies argue that their products have had medical warnings for more than 45 years. Furthermore, the companies have never filed a legal challenge against them until the new images were approved. A similar case is also pending before the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.
Judge Leon found the nine graphic images approved by the Food and Drug Administration in June go far beyond in depicting the facts about smoking's health risks. He says that the ads veer into advocacy, a critical distinction in free speech cases.
Some of the proposed images included graphic depictions of a man exhaling cigarette smoke through a tracheotomy hole in his throat, a diseased mouth covered with lesions and a cadaver on a table with post-autopsy chest staple.
"It is abundantly clear from viewing these images that the emotional response they were crafted to induce is calculated to provoke the viewer to quit, or never to start smoking - an objective wholly apart from disseminating purely factual and uncontroversial information," Leon wrote.
The judge also pointed out some photos used in the labels was altered to evoke emotion. Leon pointed out that the FDA requirement that labels were to cover the entire top half of cigarette packs, front and back and include a number for a stop-smoking hotline, may be unconstitutional. He said the labels were little more than a "mini-billboard" for the agency's "obvious anti-smoking agenda."
The ruling is "wrong on the science and wrong on the law," Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids says. Myers urged the Obama administration to appeal the ruling and said a delay would only serve the financial interests of tobacco companies that spend billions to downplay the health risks of smoking.
"Studies around the world and evidence presented to the FDA have repeatedly shown that large, graphic warnings, like those adopted by the FDA, are most effective at informing consumers about the health risks of smoking, discouraging children and other nonsmokers from starting to smoke, and motivating smokers to quit," Myers said in a statement. "Because of that evidence, at least 43 other countries now require large, graphic cigarette warnings."
© 2011, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Warning stickers, tobacco, cancer, FDA, legal opinion
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