Judge: Graphic Cigarette Warning Labels Violate Right To Free Speech

Remember those graphic, sometimes gory, cigarette warning labels the FDA came up with? Well, a U.S. District Judge has sided with the tobacco companies and ruled that the warnings violate cigarette-makers’ right to free speech.

“The government has failed to carry both its burden of demonstrating a compelling interest and its burden of demonstrating that the rule is narrowly tailored to achieve a constitutionally permissible form of compelled commercial speech,” wrote the judge, who also ruled that the labels, which would occupy the top half of the front and back of each pack of smokes, are too large. “Unfortunately, because Congress did not consider the First Amendment implications of this legislation, it did not concern itself with how the regulations could be narrowly tailored to avoid unintentionally compelling commercial speech.”

He suggested that the government doesn’t need the graphic labels because they already have other ways to curb smoking, like raising taxes.

Tobacco health labels unconstitutional: U.S. judge [Reuters]