On Tuesday, five tobacco companies filed suit against the FDA in response to a new law which places graphic warning labels on cigarette packaging. Some of the pictures include graphic images of unhealthy lungs, unhealthy mouths and teeth, and other displays of the potential physical harm caused by smoking. They will also include the phone number for the stop-smoking hotline. The five tobacco companies include R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Lorillard Tobacco Co., Commonwealth Brands, Inc., Ligget Group, LLC., and Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co. Inc.
Specifically, the complaint stated,
"Never before in the United States have producers of a lawful product been required to use their own packaging and advertising to convey an emotionally charged government message urging adult consumers to shun their products."
The five companies also argue that this is exactly the type of compelled speech the First Amendment is supposed to prevent. While it is important that people are educated on the effects of smoking, they argue, this regulation "completely disregards core constitutional principles."
In defense of the law, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius stated, "These labels are frank, honest and powerful depictions of the health risks of smoking and they will help encourage smokers to quit."
If the FDA gets its way, the new law will require the warnings to appear on cigarette packaging beginning October 22, 2012. We will keep you updated on any and all progression from this suit.