In an effort to get the Food and Drug Administration to shut down its plans to slap graphic new warning labels on tobacco products, four large tobacco firms have sued the government. Big tobacco contends the labels will cost too much to print and will infringe on their rights to free speech.
Scheduled to show up on packages in late 2012, the labels — which show graphic maladies believed to be caused by tobacco use — are required to take up the top half of cigarette packs, and appear on ads as well. The warnings will also include a phone number for a stop-smoking hotline.
The AP reports the companies filing the suit, which include R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Lorillard Tobacco Co., are asking the legal system to do away with the requirements.
In their lawsuit, they wrote,
“Never before in the United States have producers of a lawful product been required to use their own packaging and advertising to convey an emotionally-charged government message urging adult consumers to shun their products,” the companies wrote in the lawsuit filed in federal court in Washington, D.C.
The tobacco consortium also takes issue with how they say the images were manipulated to appear more graphic. For instance, they wrote that the picture of a corpse is an actor with a fake scar, and the healthy lungs were photoshopped to look nicer than the diseased ones.
The FDA did not comment.
Tobacco firms sue FDA over new graphic warnings [AP via MSNBC]