Product Liability

Judge blocks rule requiring graphic images on cigarette packages

Large, graphic images warning of the dangers of cigarette smoking will not be placed on cigarette packages and advertisements any time soon. A federal judge has formally blocked the new rules issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that required tobacco firms to include the images on their products in hopes of dissuading persons from using them.

U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon first sided with tobacco firms in November when he issued a temporary restraining order to block the new rules until a lawsuit filed by the tobacco industry was resolved.

The new rules were to have gone into effect beginning Oct. 12, 2012. The graphic images show corpses and smokers with tracheotomy scars in their necks with messages like, “smoking will kill you.” The federal requirements called for the warnings to cover half of the front and half of the back of each pack. The warnings also were to cover 20 percent of large cigarette ads. Each warning would also include “1-800-QUIT-NOW,” a number that smokers can call for help quitting.

The requirements also stated that cigarette makers who do not comply with the orders will not be allowed to sell their products in the United States. The new warnings are designed to replace the small, more discreet warnings that were first placed on cigarette packs 25 years ago.

While the new labels are backed by the White House, Judge Leon found that the requirements went too far because they were “neither designed to protect the consumer from confusion or deception, nor to increase consumer awareness of smoking risks; rather, they were crafted to evoke a strong emotional response calculated to provoke the viewer to quit or never start smoking.”

The FDA is represented by the Judicial Department, which is expected to appeal the latest ruling.

Source: The Washington Post