Big Tobacco’s Challenge to New Cigarette Warnings Called “Bogus”
As U.S. appeals court weighs case, Canada forges ahead
Posted by: Editor | Apr 10, 2012
As an appeals court in Washington heard arguments today on the tobacco industry's lawsuit to block graphic cigarette warnings in the United States, an editorial in The New York Times called the suit a "bogus challenge" that is all too typical of tobacco industry tactics.
"The tobacco industry has never been bashful about fighting back against attempts to regulate the promotion of its deadly, addictive products," the Times wrote. "The latest is an effort to derail new regulations requiring large health warnings on cigarette packages by making baseless First Amendment claims."
The case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit consolidates appeals of Judge Richard Leon's two decisions to block the new warnings, which are required under the 2009 law granting the Food and Drug Administration authority over tobacco products. The warnings, which must cover the top half of the front and back of cigarette packs, are supposed to be implemented in September.
Judge Leon's ruling that the warnings violate the First Amendment is wrong on the law and wrong on the science. In a separate case, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the warning label requirement as constitutional. That court held that the warnings are consistent with the First Amendment under established precedent permitting regulation of commercial speech.
While legal wrangling continues in the United States, at least 43 other countries now require graphic cigarette warnings. Canada — the world’s pioneer in requiring graphic warnings — is currently implementing even larger warnings that cover 75 percent of the front and back of each pack.
The U.S. and other countries are acting on the strong evidence that large, graphic warnings are most effective at informing consumers about the health risks of smoking, discouraging children from starting to smoke and motivating smokers to quit.
The message of the warnings is clear, accurate and without controversy: Smoking causes disease and death.