Graphic warnings violate First Amendment

On August 24 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit established extraconstitutional a law by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that would have obliged tobacco companies to put 9 graphic health labels on all cigarette packaging and advertising.

Plain Pack

Open plain cigarette pack

The Court accepted arguments made by four cigarette makers. The Court decreed that the suggested graphic health warnings broke the First Amendment as the Food and Drug Administration did not give proofs that the graphic health warnings would “‘directly advance” its interest in decreasing the number of smoking Americans.

Martin L. Holton III, executive vice president and general counsel for R.J. Reynolds, which was one of the complainants, said that they are glad that the Court of Appeals approved the arguments of Reynolds that smokers must be well-informed about the dangers of tobacco use in some degree according to the U.S. Constitution.

Martin L. Holton III said that Reynolds American is charged to convey information to tobacco consumers with exact information on the various health dangers connected to smoking.

The Court of Appeals pointed out that the government can demand tobacco companies to make “purely factual and uncontroversial” revealing about the dangers of tobacco products in order to avert consumer fraud, but declared that the graphic health images violated constitutional territory saying that these instigatory warnings and the provocatively-named hotline cannot efficiently be estimated as disinterested effort to provide information to consumers. They are bold efforts to call up emotion and encourage smokers to give up smoking.

The Court referring to results included in FDA’s regulation that demonstrated the graphic images would have no influence in decreasing the number of smoking people. Especially, Food and Drug Administration’s review of the regulation established that the health warning labels would cause no essential change in U.S. smoking rates.

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