In a rare victory for the tobacco industry, a U.S. appeals court has ruled against the Food and Drug Administration’s requirement that cigarette manufacturers adorn their products with pictures of dead and diseased smokers, saying the mandate constituted a violation of free speech.
The tobacco industry argued that the images strayed beyond the facts of the dangers of smoking and into the realm of advocacy. Presumably, cigarette companies will still be required to place written warnings on their products.
[The court] said the case raised “novel questions about the scope of the government’s authority to force the manufacturer of a product to go beyond making purely factual and accurate commercial disclosures and undermine its own economic interest”.
The court said that in this case it was “by making every single pack of cigarettes in the country a mini billboard for the government’s anti-smoking message”.
It added that the FDA “has not provided a shred of evidence” that the images would directly advance its policy aimed at reducing the number of smokers in America.