Wednesday, November 30, 2011

US Judge Suspends Health Graphic Warnings

The judge of the United States has suspended a US regulation regarding cigarette companies to display health graphic warnings on cigarette packages, like a man blowing cigarette smoke on his child and many others.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in June of this year presented nine graphic warnings that should be introduced in September 2012, which is the first significant change in US tobacco health warnings in 25 years. Cigarette packages already have text warnings from the US Surgeon General.
The new labels have to cover the top half of the front and back of cigarette packages and also should contain color images demonstrating the health consequences of smoking, including diseased lungs, bad teeth and dead bodies.
“The Congress ordered the size and location of the graphic warning before charging the FDA with fulfilling the mandate, by doing so it doesn’t empower this requirement to automatically adopt constitutional model,” said US District Judge Richard Leon.
The tobacco lawsuit is latest possible attempt by corporation to contest a right to free speech, a long and severe battle that could end before the US Supreme Court.
Reynolds American, Lorillard Inc, Liggett Group LLC and Commonwealth Brands Inc. sued the FDA in August this year.
They declared that the given labels force them to take part in anti-smoking advocacy on the government’s behalf infringing their right to free speech.
The cigarette industry has required Leon to suspend the FDA's new requirements, delaying the decision on their constitutionality.
They declare that they needed a fast resolution because they would have to launch in November and spend millions of dollars in order to comply with the requirements.
Justice Department representatives had stated that the money was an insignificant fraction of the company’s net sales, so they would not go through irremediable hazard without the temporary injunction.
Government attorneys declared the labels communicated the hazards of smoking more efficiently than words alone, and were required to discourage more people from smoking, especially youngsters.
Floyd Abrams, Lorillard’s lawyer stated that the given case was in it early stages and there was a “positive chance” that it will finally reach the US Supreme Court.
The Dow Jones index, whose participants are Altria, Lorillard and Reynolds American, was only 0.05 % higher in today’s trading.
Altria Group is not covered by the given lawsuit.
The given case covers R.J Reynolds Tobacco, US Food and Drug Administration and US District Court for the District of Columbia.