Supreme court may decide if graphic images will be placed on cigarette packs
Warning the public about the dangers of cigarettes has been an uphill battle for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The agency established new guidelines ordering cigarette makers to place large, graphic images on packages of and advertisements for cigarettes in hopes of encouraging smokers to quit and nonsmokers to not pick up the habit. The new rule was to go into effect Oct. 12, but tobacco companies claimed the measure would violate free speech. In March, an appeals court in Cincinnati upheld the FDA’s requirements, a move that was derailed when a federal judge formally blocked the measure until lawsuits with the tobacco industry could be resolved.
The graphic images show corpses and smokers with tracheotomy scars on their necks with messages such as, “smoking will kill you.” The federal requirements called for the warnings to cover half of the front and half of the back of each package of cigarettes. The warnings were also to cover 20 percent of large cigarette ads, and would include “1-800-QUIT-NOW,” a number that smokers can call for help quitting.
Cigarette makers who refused to comply with the orders would not be allowed to sell their products in the United States. The new rules were to replace the small, far more discreet warnings that have been on cigarette packages for more than 25 years.
The fight is far from over. On Friday, a U.S. appeals court in Washington, D.C., ruled that the label regulation violates free-speech rights of tobacco companies. The Supreme Court may have to make the final determination on the two opposing appeals decisions.
Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is taking the fight against tobacco into its own hands. Last spring, the agency launched a graphic anti-smoking campaign with television ads featuring smokers talking frankly with viewers about the injuries and diseases the habit has caused them. The CDC is calling the 12-week campaign a success and hopes to run another series of commercials next year.
Source: The Seattle Times
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