Tobacco Giants Sue Over Gross Labels

They argue that FDA's warnings violate their first amendment rights

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 17, 2011 11:45 AM CDT

(Newser) – Five major cigarette makers have filed a lawsuit against the FDA, claiming that its graphic new warning labels violate their First Amendment rights. “The government can require warnings which are straightforward and essentially uncontroversial,” a lawyer for the companies explained in a statement, “but they can't require a cigarette pack to serve as a mini-billboard for the government's anti-smoking campaign.”

The suit, filed on behalf of RJ Reynolds, Lorillard Tobacco, Commonwealth Brands, Liggett Group, and Santa Fe Natural Tobacco, argues that the government can’t force them to make their customers “depressed, discouraged, and afraid” to buy their smokes, the BBC reports. But a similar suit was already shot down by a US district court in Kentucky last year; it's currently before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Notably absent from this suit is Phillip Morris, which has threatened to sue Australia over similar labels.

This file image provided by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on June 21, 2011 shows one of nine new warning labels cigarette makers will have to use by the fall of 2012.
This file image provided by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on June 21, 2011 shows one of nine new warning labels cigarette makers will have to use by the fall of 2012.   (AP Photo/U.S. Food and Drug Administration)
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