Judge: Graphic Smoking Images Are Unconstitutional

Big Tobacco wins a round in court over proposed warnings

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 29, 2012 6:20 PM CST

(Newser) – Tobacco companies can't be forced to put ultra-graphic images on cigarette packages and advertising to scare away smokers, a federal judge ruled today. The FDA requirement, which was supposed to go into effect later this year, violates the companies' free-speech rights, declared US District Judge Richard Leon in Washington, reports BusinessWeek. The feds are expected to appeal, adds Reuters.

“These mandatory graphic images violate the First Amendment by unconstitutionally compelling speech,” said Leon. "While the line between the constitutionally permissible dissemination of factual information and the impermissible expropriation of a company's advertising space for government advocacy can be frustratingly blurry, here the line seems quite clear."

This combination photo made from file images provided by the FDA shows two of nine cigarette warning labels from the government.
This combination photo made from file images provided by the FDA shows two of nine cigarette warning labels from the government.   (AP Photo/U.S. Food and Drug Administration, File)
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