August 17th, 2011

American tobacco firms file lawsuit against FDA over graphic health warnings


Five American tobacco companies filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration over graphic health warnings on cigarette packaging.

The companies said that the new law that would take effect from September 2012 would violate the first amendment or their constitutional right to free speech since it would mandate them to promote Washington’s anti-smoking campaign.

The five firms – Lorillard, RJ Reynolds Tobacco, Commonwealth Brands, Santa Fe Natural Tobacco and Liggett Group – filed the lawsuit on Tuesday with the U.S. District Court in Washington. RJ Reynolds is the maker of Camel and Winston, and Lorillard produces Newport and True.

They claimed that the new labels would make cigarette buyers depressed, discouraged and afraid to buy their products. The companies said that while the government can require them to place warnings that are straightforward and non controversial, they would not agree to be the billboard of the government’s anti-smoking campaign.

They sought a preliminary injunction to stop the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act from taking effect 12 months from now.

The warnings include photos of decaying teeth or damaged lungs, which are effects of smoking.

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