U.S. Challenges Judge Ruling on Cigarette Graphic Warnings
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Posted by: Natalia Gromov
U.S. Challenges Judge Ruling on
Cigarette Graphic Warnings -Bloomberg
March 7, 2012
The U.S. government appealed a federal judge’s ruling throwing
out requirements for graphic warning labels regarding the health risks of
The Food and Drug Administration filed a notice of appeal
today in U.S. District Court in Washington seeking to overturn Judge Richard
Leon’s Feb. 29 decision that the government’s rule violates the tobacco
companies’ rights to free speech.
The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington
is scheduled to hear arguments next month on the government’s challenge to a
ruling Leon issued in November that canceled a Sept. 22 deadline for tobacco
companies to begin displaying images such as diseased lungs and a cadaver with
chest staples on an autopsy table on the top half of the front and back of all
It is unclear whether the three-judge panel will
consider today’s appeal on April 10.
Lorillard Inc. (LO), Reynolds
American Inc. (RAI)’s R.J. Reynolds unit, Commonwealth Brands Inc., Liggett
Group LLC and Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co. sued the FDA in August, claiming its
mandates for cigarette packages, cartons and advertising violate the First
Amendment. The companies said in court papers that it would cost them a total of
about $20 million to meet the 2012 deadline.
The graphics were supposed
to cover the top half of the front and back of cigarette packages and 20 percent
of print advertisements. The FDA estimated the visual warnings would help lower
the smoking rate by about 0.212 percentage points, Leon wrote in his
During a Feb. 1 hearing, Mark Stern, a Justice
Department lawyer, compared the FDA mandates to warnings on packages of charcoal
telling people to not use it indoors, noting that 28 people a year die from
carbon monoxide poisoning for using charcoal inside their homes.
cigarettes, there are 440,000 deaths, Stern said.
"That’s a pretty big
interest,” he added. "It’s no secret that the government wants people to stop
Leon said during the hearing there’s nothing in the record to
show that Congress gave "clear, thoughtful analysis” to the First Amendment
implications of the law.
"Congress did what it did out of some innate
sense of ‘we can do this,’” he said.
The case is R.J. Reynolds Tobacco
Co. v. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 11-cv-1482, U.S. District Court,
District of Columbia (Washington).