Big Tobacco Sues FDA Over Shocking Warning Labels


Big tobacco is suing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) over the graphic images mandated to appear on every pack of cigarettes sold in the U.S. after September 2012. (See all nine images below.) The warnings are required under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act passed by Congress and signed into law in June 2009.

In a press release, Lorillard, Inc., the third largest manufacturer of cigarettes in the U.S., said the warnings are an “unconstitutional way of forcing tobacco manufacturers to disseminate the government’s anti-smoking message.” Lorillard, Inc. is joined in the lawsuit by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Commonwealth Brands, Inc., and Liggett Group LLC.

By law, beginning in September 2012, the new cigarette health warnings must appear on the top 50 percent of both the front and rear panels of each cigarette package, and in the upper portion of each cigarette ad, taking up at least 20 percent of the space.

“The regulations violate the First Amendment. The notion that the government can require those who manufacture a lawful product to emblazon half of its package with pictures and words admittedly drafted to persuade the public not to purchase that product cannot withstand constitutional scrutiny,” said Floyd Abrams, a partner in the law firm of Cahill Gordon & Reindel, who is representing Lorillard. “The government can engage in as much anti-smoking advocacy as it chooses in whatever language and with whatever pictures it chooses; it cannot force those who lawfully sell tobacco to the public to carry that message, those words, and those pictures.”

A similar action was taken in Australia this June when Philip Morris filed a notice of claim with the Government of Australia.

According to the American Cancer Society, cigarette smoking is the major single cause of cancer mortality in the U.S., causing one in five deaths.

The tobacco industry’s response is certainly not unexpected. In my last post on this topic, I asked the question, “Will the new images have an impact on smoking rates?” Now I’m wondering if you think the cigarette manufacturers have a point. Do these graphic warning labels violate the First Amendment? Please take a moment to weigh in on the poll below.

Related Reading
Shocking New Cigarette Warning Labels Issued by FDA
Tobacco Companies Cry Foul Over Graphic Aussie Warning Labels
Are Hot Dogs as Bad as Cigarettes?

Images from U.S. Department of Health & Human Services


Lu M.
L M6 years ago

it is truth in labeling. Why must there be illustrations? The real photographics on Brasilian cigarettes very powerful, not as watered down as these.

Sandra L.
Sandra Lewis6 years ago

I grew up with parents who used the death sticks non-stop. Long car trips with the windows rolled up, and non-stop death sticks. My siblings and I had no fun at all being forced to breathe tobacco smoke all our young lives. I have NO sympathy for smokers--NONE. My parents died young from cancer. You will, too. Enjoy!!!

Leonora B.
Leonora B.7 years ago

I think

Karen Civitarese
Karen Civitarese7 years ago

I have to agree with cat b, all addictive drugs should be included not just ciggarettes. Alcohol is the number 1 drug so what the hell? Oh if you get stopped for dui they just take away your license, yet these drunks still drive! And lets hope they haven't killed someone in the meantime. But that will come. It looks to me that Prohibition needs to be put back in place. I personally quit smoking 2 years ago because I couldn't afford almost $9 for a pack of smokes. So let's just kill all the addictions an yes yours too.

Bill K.
Bill K7 years ago

the tobacco companies spent years lying to their own customers. they have no right to complain. if they want to keep saying they should be allowed to get away with murder because this is a legal product and therefore consumers shouldn't know the truth about what the product does to them then maybe it's time to make tobacco a not so legal product.

Ali G.
Ali G7 years ago

What a crock!! The tobacco companies are just trying to get in first, and protect their unethical 'earnings'. We've had these graphic photos on our cigarette packets in Australia for a few years, and I think the truth is if someone is hooked, they'll smoke! End of story. Not long ago the price of smokes went up by a significant chunk (don't remember the percentage) in an effort to seriously reduce the number of smokers.
Every smoker exclaimed, some quit, some reduced the number and/or strength of the smokes they had in a day, and others just kept moseying right along, as before!!
You makes your choice, you pays the price - WHATEVER that may be.

Peggy Peters
Peggy Peters7 years ago

Oh please! This will not impact the tobacco companies negatively. If a person wants to smoke, they will puff away regardless of some graphic ads. I am a later in life child who didn't get to know a good portion of my family on both sides because of the ill-effects of tobacco. Yes, everyone knows it is unhealthy to smoke and yet they puff on despite the consequences.
Once you're hooked, I understand the problem quitting presents but those in your family who don't smoke are victims too. We don't get a say one way or the other and we are left alone to handle the consequences of cigarettes. Graveyards are not great places to celebrate the holidays.

Cat B.
CB C7 years ago

Wow...some people just go too far. While you think it's all well and good to pick on smokers who have serious addictions and need help, why isn't anyone picking on alcoholics and the people THEY kill (including themselves) every year? Everyone gets all rightous about smokers and I don't understand why. Because 2nd hand smoke is detrimental to your health? Isn't the drunk driver detrimental to your LIFE??

Get real people. If you want to bash others addictions then include them ALL (as well as your own) and not just the cigarette smokers.

Marie Therese H.
Marie Therese H7 years ago

If smoking went down it has nothing to do with gory pictures on the packages. The cost for one thing, in Canada, 7$ a package.
Also it is no longer considered cool as it was in my time. Back then government encouraged smoking as they were owned by the big cigarette companies!
However, I agree with the reader who said it was a bit too much 'Big Brother'
If the government want to pass on the gory messages it should do so on it's own. Not twist arms and force companies to do it for them!

Kathryn B.
Kathryn B7 years ago

I live in an area of the country where people seem to have NOT gotten the message about death sticks and how they can devastate their own life but the lives of those around them with second and third hand smoke.

I hear people with death stick in hand whine about not having enough money for food. Are they kidding me?!! What does a carton of death sticks cost now? $30-$50 a carton? Multiply that times a month of destroying their health and they could feed themselves quite well plus prolong their lives by getting rid of the death sticks!!!

I live in an RV park that has no regulations about smoking and non-smoking sections and am now forced to move to another space because EVERYONE around me smokes!!! In this day and age with ALL of the PROOF of what death sticks do, I am APPALLED by the overwhelming number of people around me who smoke. They are from almost EVERY age group too. It's mind-boggling and is a REAL and DANGEROUS threat to me and my dogs and birds.

As far as I'm concerned, the warnings can't be GRAPHIC enough!!! I have the RIGHT to breathe CLEAN air and not be forced to endure the poison of second and third hand smoke because I CHOOSE to be tobacco free!!!