Tag Archives: warning labels

Obama administration appeals court injunction on graphic cigarette warnings


The Obama administration and the Food and Drug Administration appealed an exasperating federal court ruling on the legality of graphic warning labels on cigarette packs.


The judge ruled that the warnings violated Big Tobacco’s First Amendment rights by (and I’m simplifying here) forcing them to publish warning labels to provoke an emotional reaction so people won’t buy their product. (It sounds wacky, but there is some legal precedent there — as part of the First Amendment, there are limits to how much you can make people say things they don’t want to say.).

What I don’t totally get is the logic that text warnings on cigarette packs DON’T violate the First Amendment, but graphic warnings DO.

So, while graphic warnings are being put in place around the world, in America they are on hold.

Anyway, this is going to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and will very likely end up before the U.S. Supreme Court. With the business-friendly “corporate personhood” court currently in power, I would bet money Big Tobacco wins. We need a couple of those old right-wingers on the court to retire, dammit! (Though they never will as long as Obama is president).

Dammit! Judge rules against graphic warning labels on cigarettes

warning label6

Aw, crap!

The tobacco companies might actually win this round. A federal judge in Washington, D.C., Richard Leon, slapped an injunction against the graphic warning labels, saying there is a likelihood he would rule against the Food and Drug Administration. The tobacco industry (every major company but Philip Morris joined the lawsuit) argued that the labels violated their free speech.

The judge ruled that the images were in violation of a “First Amendment principle that prevents the government from compelling speech in the commercial arena.”

In issuing the injunction, Judge Leon states:

“It is abundantly clear from viewing these images that the emotional response they were crafted to induce is calculated to provoke the viewer to quit, or never to start smoking — an objective wholly apart from disseminating purely factual and uncontroversial information.”

Shit, shit, SHIT!

“Today’s ruling reaffirms fundamental First Amendment principles by rejecting the notion that the government may require those who sell lawful products to adults to urge current and prospective purchasers not to purchase those products.”

— Floyd Abrams, a partner in the law firm of Cahill Gordon & Reindel that’s representing Lorillard (Newport).

It doesn’t look good for the graphic warnings, which are in place and perfectly legal in places like Canada, the U.K. and Australia. Those countries don’t have a First Amendment and the kinds of legal protection for the tobacco industry that the U.S. does.

Someone did make a good point to me, though, that “do you really think that a smoker is going to care what the images are?” Most probably won’t. Most I’m sure will ignore them, but if one, or two or three or a few more than that ARE affected by them and say to themselves, “Shit, I really need to quit,” than yeah, I think they make a difference.

The case is still active, but with the injunction in place, the graphic warnings on cigarettes, in the U.S. at least, are probably a few years off at best.

Oh, those kooky Kiwis and their cigarette warnings!

cigarette cover

Oh, look at this. Those kooky Kiwis have come up with the dumbest invention for smokers.

In some countries like New Zealand, Australia and Canada, the warning labels on cigarettes have become increasingly graphic to discourage smokers (In the U.S., Big Tobacco has actually sued over graphic warning labels, saying, get this, they make smokers “depressed.” I can’t make this shit up.

In New Zealand, to counteract the graphic warning, British American Tobacco  came up with this invention to cover up the graphic warnings so smokers don’t have to look at it. It’s like some kind of Velcro band that goes around the cigarette pack literally to hide it. Oh, brother. I wonder how many people will actually buy it? What a bunch of drongos BAT are, trying to circumvent the law.