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Federal Judge Blocks Graphic Cigarette Warnings

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U.S. District Judge Richard Leon has blocked the Food and Drug Administration from requiring graphic images of cadavers and diseased lungs be placed on tobacco products by manufacturers, saying that they were a violation of 1st Amendment rights.

Judge Leon said in a 29 page ruling that he believed there was a “substantial likelihood” that tobacco companies would win based on the position that “these mandatory graphic images unconstitutionally compel speech,” the LA Times reported. Leon also said that the graphic health warnings were more than “purely factual and uncontroversial information.” The preliminary injunction placed by Leon will likely cause the FDA rule, which was passed by Congress in 2009 and was to go into effect in September, to be held in dispute for an extended period of time.

Disputed images include pictures of diseased lungs, an infant in an incubator, a man breathing through a hole in his throat, a man on a respirator, and a cadaver on an autopsy table, with health warnings next to the images.

Tobacco manufacturers Lorillard Tobacco Co., Commonwealth Brands Inc., Liggett Group, Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co., and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., filed the lawsuit against the FDA ruling. The companies are also against the amount of packaging space the images displace.

Though studies have shown large graphic images are effective, debate over whether the images are pure statements of fact remain. Some feel the images are more about an emotional response then about presenting fact.

The FDA declined to comment on Judge Leon’s ruling. disclaimer: This article: Federal Judge Blocks Graphic Cigarette Warnings was posted on Tuesday, November 8th, 2011 at 7:52 pm at and is filed under Toxic Substances Lawsuits.

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