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Federal judge blocks graphic images on tobacco products

Wed 29th February, 2012

USA: A judge in Washington has ruled that a federal mandate requiring tobacco companies to place graphic health warnings on their products is a violation of free speech.

The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act passed in 2009 would have required nine written warnings such as "Cigarettes are addictive" and "Tobacco smoke causes harm to children." Also included would have been alternating images of a corpse and smoke-infected lungs.

A group of tobacco companies led by R.J. Reynolds and Lorillard had sued, saying the warnings would be cost-prohibitive, and would dominate and damage the packaging and promotion of their particular brands. The legal question was whether the new labeling was purely factual and accurate in nature or was designed to discourage use of the products.

"The graphic images here were neither designed to protect the consumer from confusion or deception, nor to increase consumer awareness of smoking risks" said said federal Judge Richard Leon in his 19-page ruling. "Rather they were crafted to evoke a strong emotional response calculated to provoke the viewer to quit or never start smoking."

Source: CNN (29 February 2012)

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