After Oct. 22, 2012, cigarettes without the new warning labels won't be allowed to be sold, marking the biggest overhaul of tobacco sale regulations in 25 years. Nine images were selected in total by the FDA, out of 36 proposed last year.

Similar to cigarette labeling laws enacted in Canada, the U.K. and Brazil years ago, one of the nine graphic images, paired with explicit text such as "smoking can kill you," must cover the top half of both the front and back of cigarette packs. In cigarette advertisements, the graphic and matched text must take up at least 20% of the ads.

"These labels are frank, honest and powerful depictions of the health risks of smoking, and they will help," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told Bloomberg recently. "These labels will encourage smokers to quit and prevent children from smoking."

Reynolds American and Lorillard have argued that, to "confiscate the top 50% of both sides of cigarette packaging and mandate shocking color graphics" is unconstitutional, according to a brief filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati in September.

Altria Group ( MO), owner of Philip Morris USA, is not involved in the lawsuit.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta estimated that 46 million people, or 20% of American adults, are cigarette smokers, a practice that is said to kill around 443,000 people each year.

Should the Federal Government Have the Right to Mandate Images on Cigarette Packs?


-- Written by Miriam Marcus Reimer in New York.

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