Judge rules required graphic tobacco labels unconstitutional

Posted at 6:00 PM, Feb 29, 2012
and last updated 2012-02-29 18:03:53-05

Today a U.S. judge ruled that it would be unconstitutional to require tobacco companies to print graphic health warnings on cigarette packaging and advertising, reported Reuters.

The proposed packing, passed by Congress in 2009, sparked public debate about the actual effects of such advertising, on health and local Richmond economy.

Reuter’s reported that U.S. District Judge Richard Leon wrote, in a 19-page ruling, that educating the public about the dangers of smoking is compelling, but “…simply advocating that the public not purchase a legal product is not.”

The new cigarette packs, intended for distribution in 2012, would have depicted images of rotting teeth, smokers with oxygen masks on, diseased lungs and other intense images.

Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids said in a statement to Reuter’s that Leon’s ruling “ignores decades of First Amendment precedent that support the right of the government to require strong warning labels to protect the public health.”

The case is R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co et al v. FDA, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, No. 11-1482.

The full article can be read here, on Reuter’s page: