FDA Abandons Gruesome Cigarette Warnings

Feds won't challenge free speech ruling
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 20, 2013 2:09 AM CDT

(Newser) – Big Tobacco can breathe easier: The Food and Drug Administration has scrapped a series of graphic warning labels for cigarettes after deciding not to challenge a court ruling that said the shocking images violated free-speech protections, the Wall Street Journal reports. The labels included images such as diseased lungs and the sewn-up corpse of a smoker and carried stern warnings like, "Smoking can kill you."

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The FDA now plans to come up with a different set of warning labels, but the process is likely to take years. A separate court ruling last year upheld a 2009 ruling that gave the federal government the authority to regulate tobacco and to add stronger warnings on cigarette packets. Dozens of countries have introduced similar graphic warnings on tobacco products in recent years, and a World Health Organization survey found that they caused around a quarter of smokers to consider quitting, the AP reports. (Read more cigarettes stories.)

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