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We are disappointed that the government will not seek Supreme Court review of an appellate court ruling that blocked graphic cigarette warnings proposed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, we welcome the FDA's announcement that it will begin development of new warnings that comply both with legal rulings and the 2009 law that required large, graphic cigarette warnings. The FDA should move quickly to require strong warnings that are based on the best available science and fully inform Americans about the deadly consequences of smoking.
While the court ruling at issue today blocked the specific warnings developed by the FDA, a separate appellate court ruling upheld the law's underlying requirement for the graphic warnings. The law requires cigarette warnings that contain color graphics depicting the health consequences of smoking and cover the top half of the front and back of cigarette packs, as well as 20 percent of cigarette ads.
Tobacco companies filed two lawsuits challenging the warnings.
March 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld the law's warning labels requirement, finding that the warnings "are reasonably related to the government's interest in preventing consumer deception and are therefore constitutional." It found that the warnings "do not impose any restriction on Plaintiff's dissemination of speech, nor do they touch on Plaintiffs' core speech. Instead, the labels serve as disclaimers to the public regarding the incontestable health consequences of using tobacco." Tobacco companies have appealed this ruling to the Supreme Court, which has not decided whether to accept the case.
August 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit struck down the specific warnings proposed by the FDA. We believe this ruling was wrong on the science and the law.
Tobacco companies are fighting the graphic warnings because they know such warnings are effective. As a federal judge found in a 2006 civil racketeering judgment against cigarette manufacturers, these companies have spent decades deceiving the American people and downplaying the health risks of smoking. Even today, they continue to spend billions to glamorize smoking. The graphic warnings would counter the industry's deception and tell the truth about how deadly and unglamorous smoking truly is.