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Judge Bans Graphic Cigarette Warning Labels

NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- A federal judge has blocked the Food and Drug Administration from requiring tobacco companies to put graphic warning labels on cigarette packs.

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon granted a preliminary injunction to four tobacco companies on Monday, saying the labels were not factual and, in some instances, had been digitally altered to convey a controversial message.

"Characterizing these graphic images as 'warnings' strikes me as inaccurate and unfair," Leon wrote in the injunction. "At first blush, they appear to be more about shocking and repelling than warning."

Leon also wrote that, as a result of these and other issues, the tobacco companies were likely to prevail in their lawsuit and would not be required to feature the labels while the case played out in court.

The warnings were first unveiled in June and were slated to start appearing on cigarette boxes in September 2012.

Anti-smoking organizations are urging the FDA and the U.S. Justice Department to appeal the ruling.

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