The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed a request with the U.S. Court of Appeals that will put graphic warnings on cigarette labels to show consumers how smoking can disfigure or kill people.
The request was filed on Tuesday, October 09, after a case was turned down by a three-judge panel in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington. The judges ruled that the graphic health warnings violated the First Amendment.
The DOJ is asking for a rehearing.
At the core of the issue, the DOJ is asking for a large graphic image to be placed on all cigarette packages. The images are provided by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Photos show a disfigured person who has been injured by smoking cigarettes, and a general statement about the effects of long-term smoking. In addition, a number to a smoking hotline, 1-800-QUIT-NOW, is included.
When the mandate was first introduced, some of the nation’s largest tobacco companies sued to block it, saying that the warnings went beyond facts.
Suggested images showed things like a man exhaling smoke through a tracheotomy hole in his throat, an infant receiving a mother’s kiss wrapped in a veil of smoke, and a smoker breathing with the help of an oxygen machine.
The case brings up the question as to how far a government can go in enforcing its authority over a product manufacturer. The U.S. Court of Appeals points out that cigarette packaging is not another medium through which the government can advertise its anti-smoking message. Tobacco companies are already disallowed the advantage of a presence in magazines, billboards, and TV. Cigarette packages are the last venues they have to build their brand and keep consumers.
However, the DOJ countered by pointing out that the photos are indeed factual.
Go here to see all the new images suggested by the FDA.
What do you think? Should the DOJ and FDA be allowed to print these images on cigarette packages? Do you think the images are slanderous, even though the DOJ says they are “factual”?
Leave your opinion in a comment below.