For all the times the tobacco industry has (rightfully) been shut down in its attempt to woo new customers, they must’ve been granted a boon by the legal gods, as they’ve won a battle against nasty, graphic cigarette package warning labels.
So how did Goliath beat David this time? Free speech, says Reuters. A federal judge told the U.S. it couldn’t make tobacco companies display certain images on packages that warned against the health risks of smoking; for example, by showing a man smoking through a hole in his throat. All because of our constitutional rights.
U.S. District Judge Richard Leon sided on Monday with tobacco companies and granted a temporary injunction, saying they would likely prevail in their lawsuit challenging the requirement as unconstitutional because it compels speech in violation of the First Amendment.
The Food and Drug Administration issued nine warnings for September 2012, marking the first change in cigarette labels in 25 years. Unlike the usual text caveats against smoking, these were to cover the “front and back of cigarette packs and 20 percent of printed advertisements and must contain color graphics depicting the health consequences of smoking, including diseased lungs, dead bodies and rotting teeth.”
Sounds super gross, but then again, it can often take a horrific example to drive the point home. In Europe, graphic anti-smoking pictures are often seen on cigarette packaging.