U.S. court rejects cigarette warning labels

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) effort to require warning labels with images of the harmful effects of tobacco on cigarette packs was rejected August 24 by a 2-1 decision by a federal appeals court, according to an article in MedPageToday.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia agreed with a lower court's determination that such a label requirement would infringe upon tobacco companies' First Amendment rights. It also found the FDA's argument that the labels would reduce smoking to be completely unsubstantiated, the article explained. The FDA relied heavily on "international consensus" that such labels reduced smoking, but could not establish a direct correlation.

The regulation would have required the images and phrases warning of the harmful effects of smoking on more than half of cigarette packs beginning on September 22. R.J. Reynolds and three other large tobacco companies sued the FDA after the regulation was announced and an injunction was issued by a federal judge until a ruling could be made.

However, earlier this year, a Cincinnati appellate decision found the labels constitutional, which could result in a Supreme Court case.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia found the images to be "inflammatory" and the hotline accompanying the images to be "provocatively named."

The American Cancer Society noted their disappointment, and pointed out that the current 25-year-old warning labels need updating.

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