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Tobacco companies file lawsuit over warning labels

Posted by on Aug. 17, 2011 at 10:12 AM
  • 6 Replies

Tobacco companies file lawsuit over warning labels

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Tobacco companies want a judge to put a stop to new graphic cigarette labels that include the sewn-up corpse of a smoker and pictures of diseased lungs, saying they unfairly urge adults to shun their legal products and will cost millions to produce.

Four of the five largest U.S. tobacco companies sued the federal government Tuesday, saying the warnings violate their free speech rights.

"Never before in the United States have producers of a lawful product been required to use their own packaging and advertising to convey an emotionally-charged government message urging adult consumers to shun their products," the companies wrote in the lawsuit filed in federal court in Washington.

The companies, led by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Lorillard Tobacco Co., said the warnings no longer simply convey facts to allow people to make a decision on whether to smoke. They instead force them to put government anti-smoking advocacy more prominently on their packs than their own brands, the companies say. They want a judge to stop the labels.

The FDA refused to comment, saying the agency does not discuss pending litigation. But when she announced the new labels in June, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius called them frank and honest warnings about the dangers of smoking.

The FDA approved nine new warnings to rotate on cigarette packs. They will be printed on the entire top half, front and back, of the packaging. The new warnings also must constitute 20 percent of any cigarette advertising. They also all include a number for a stop-smoking hotline.

One warning label is a picture of a corpse with its chest sewed up and the words: "Smoking can kill you." Another label has a picture of a healthy pair of lungs beside a yellow and black pair with a warning that smoking causes fatal lung disease.

The lawsuit said the images were manipulated to be especially emotional. The tobacco companies said the corpse photo is actually an actor with a fake scar, while the healthy lungs were sanitized to make the diseased organ look worse.

The companies also said the new labels will cost them millions of dollars for new equipment so they can frequently change from warning to warning and designers to make sure the labels meet federal requirements while maintaining some distinction among brands.

Joining R.J. Reynolds and Lorillard in the suit are Commonwealth Brands Inc., Liggett Group LLC and Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company Inc. Altria Group Inc., parent company of the nation's largest cigarette maker, Philip Morris USA, is not a part of the lawsuit.

The free speech lawsuit is a different action than a suit by several of the same companies over the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. The law, which took affect two years ago, cleared the way for the more graphic warning labels, but also allowed the FDA to limit nicotine. The law also banned tobacco companies from sponsoring athletic or social events and prevented them from giving away free samples or branded merchandise.

A federal judge upheld many parts of the law, but the companies are appealing.

by on Aug. 17, 2011 at 10:12 AM
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Replies (1-6):
LuLu5J
by Lourdes-PR on Aug. 17, 2011 at 10:12 AM

Hmm, for some reason I don't feel sorry for them at all.

HeartCharmMama
by Ing-Pura Latina on Aug. 17, 2011 at 11:09 AM

I'm totally siding with the tobacco companies on here and I hope they win everything they claim on their complaints.

How dare the FDA put their agenda on a company's products in an attempt to stop them from capitalizing???? THE NERVE OF THEM. Like I said before, that is one way of the government intervening in our lives. They'll soon completely ban Happy Meals, put pictures of morbidly obese people on a Krispy Kreme Doughnut box, add pictures of decaying teeth on a soda bottle. Where do you draw the line???

Also, alcohol causes just as much, if not more, damage to a human being, not to mention the potential of causing a very harmful addiction. Is the government going to put a sign on them, too--or even better--a re-prohibition???

marlene992
by Marlene-Cubantina on Aug. 17, 2011 at 11:14 AM


Quoting HeartCharmMama:

I'm totally siding with the tobacco companies on here and I hope they win everything they claim on their complaints.

How dare the FDA put their agenda on a company's products in an attempt to stop them from capitalizing???? THE NERVE OF THEM. Like I said before, that is one way of the government intervening in our lives. They'll soon completely ban Happy Meals, put pictures of morbidly obese people on a Krispy Kreme Doughnut box, add pictures of decaying teeth on a soda bottle. Where do you draw the line???

Also, alcohol causes just as much, if not more, damage to a human being, not to mention the potential of causing a very harmful addiction. Is the government going to put a sign on them, too--or even better--a re-prohibition???

Why do I sooo totally always disagree with you?? lmao im sorry my friend i love you very much but I think that I'd rather know whats bad for me & my family than spend money on killing me & my familia im sorry I love You Ingrid but HECK NO I AM SOO GLAD I QUIT SMOKING. I really didn't pay attention to the llabels at all I did for my self & I really knew it was wrong but still all & all If it can save someone from knowing I'd really think its right to put the label on there.

HeartCharmMama
by Ing-Pura Latina on Aug. 17, 2011 at 11:20 AM

So tell me, Marlene...if those pictures were put on your cigarette packs when you were in the height of your smoking habit, would it have stopped you from smoking then??? I really highly doubt. You know why? Because if someone wants something so badly, they are going to get it and use it. You stopped because YOU felt you needed to stop, not because the government was telling you to, right? Or am I wrong?

And if you feel that the government should tell you what's good and bad for you, would you like them to put photos on everything else you consume? Would you like to see the result of what a person looks like after eating too many Doritos? Or how about pictures of someone vomiting on the street on your Bacardi bottle? LOL!! It would be pretty out of control.

No worries, Marlene, you're my girl! But sometimes I want you to see the other side of things.

Quoting marlene992:


Quoting HeartCharmMama:

Why do I sooo totally always disagree with you?? lmao im sorry my friend i love you very much but I think that I'd rather know whats bad for me & my family than spend money on killing me & my familia im sorry I love You Ingrid but HECK NO I AM SOO GLAD I QUIT SMOKING. I really didn't pay attention to the llabels at all I did for my self & I really knew it was wrong but still all & all If it can save someone from knowing I'd really think its right to put the label on there.


marlene992
by Marlene-Cubantina on Aug. 17, 2011 at 11:28 AM


Quoting HeartCharmMama:

So tell me, Marlene...if those pictures were put on your cigarette packs when you were in the height of your smoking habit, would it have stopped you from smoking then??? I really highly doubt. You know why? Because if someone wants something so badly, they are going to get it and use it. You stopped because YOU felt you needed to stop, not because the government was telling you to, right? Or am I wrong?

And if you feel that the government should tell you what's good and bad for you, would you like them to put photos on everything else you consume? Would you like to see the result of what a person looks like after eating too many Doritos? Or how about pictures of someone vomiting on the street on your Bacardi bottle? LOL!! It would be pretty out of control.

No worries, Marlene, you're my girl! But sometimes I want you to see the other side of things.

Quoting marlene992:

 

Quoting HeartCharmMama:

Why do I sooo totally always disagree with you?? lmao im sorry my friend i love you very much but I think that I'd rather know whats bad for me & my family than spend money on killing me & my familia im sorry I love You Ingrid but HECK NO I AM SOO GLAD I QUIT SMOKING. I really didn't pay attention to the llabels at all I did for my self & I really knew it was wrong but still all & all If it can save someone from knowing I'd really think its right to put the label on there.


I answered you in the earlier reply I don't care I think its right let the people know who cares it will be our predicament what we want to do let them put what the effects are on there. I totally think if it can save at least one BODY of knowint the effects of the product HECK YA let us know!  I told you I quit smoking bcs I I WANTED TO but I will repeat myself again if it can save anyones life let it be it. I vote for the Warning Label to stay.

krise
by Christine-Arizona on Aug. 17, 2011 at 11:36 AM

 I agree!

Quoting HeartCharmMama:

I'm totally siding with the tobacco companies on here and I hope they win everything they claim on their complaints.

How dare the FDA put their agenda on a company's products in an attempt to stop them from capitalizing???? THE NERVE OF THEM. Like I said before, that is one way of the government intervening in our lives. They'll soon completely ban Happy Meals, put pictures of morbidly obese people on a Krispy Kreme Doughnut box, add pictures of decaying teeth on a soda bottle. Where do you draw the line???

Also, alcohol causes just as much, if not more, damage to a human being, not to mention the potential of causing a very harmful addiction. Is the government going to put a sign on them, too--or even better--a re-prohibition???

 




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