Health

Published on March 21st, 2013

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Tobacco Warning Labels Up in Smoke

The FDA is going back to the drawing board over graphic warning labels for cigarette packages. The labels — which show such images as a corpse and a man breathing smoke out of a tracheotomy hole — were bogged down in court after several tobacco companies sued the FDA saying the labels violated First Amendment rights and a U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed the industry’s argument.  A separate ruling by a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the federal government’s right to require tobacco companies to provide stronger warnings on cigarette packages, and on April 22, 2013 the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from the tobacco industry and let the Circuit ruling stand. But even so, it may take years for the FDA to issue its new warning label recommendations. Meanwhile, tobacco is responsible for 443,000 deaths a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

And while America continues to grapple with how both to protect consumers and not to violate the First Amendment rights of tobacco companies, Australians are getting eye-popping views of emphysema-riddled lungs, cancer victims, and crippled feet whenever they buy cigarettes. Cigarette packages have been covered with the graphic labels there since December.

Read more about tobacco advertising here.

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