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Unpleasant written warnings about the hazards of smoking will not be accompanied by even more unpleasant visual warnings. According to The Wall Street Journal Health Blog, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon ruled that the federal requirement to place graphic images on cigarette packs is unconstitutional.
The Food and Drug Administration announced the requirement in 2010, with the hopes that by displaying diseased lungs, tracheotomy holes and other disturbing imagery on packages, smokers would think twice before reaching for a cigarette. R.J. Reynolds and other tobacco companies filed a lawsuit against the agency last August, claiming that the rule violated their First Amendment protections against government-compelled speech.
In his ruling, Leon said that the Obama administration failed “to convey any factual information supported by evidence about the actual health consequences of smoking through its use of these graphic images.” He added that the government could have used alternative means to promote an anti-smoking message, such as changing the images to provide actual information rather than simply evoke an emotional response.
In November, Leon had halted the FDA requirement from moving forward pending the outcome of the lawsuit. At the time, he noted that cigarette makers would likely succeed in their effort.