Cigarette Firms Sue FDA Over Labeling Rules
Four of the largest cigarette makers in the US have sued the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) protesting against new government rules that require graphic labels and warnings on cigarette packs. The FDA hopes these warnings will alert smokers about the dangers of their dreadful habit and motivate them to stop smoking.
Against Free Speech?
The suing cigarette makers are Commonwealth Brands Inc, Liggett Group LLC, Lorillard Inc and R.J. Reynolds. They contend that the warnings would force them to indulge in advocating against the use of their own products. The new rule also violates the free speech rights guaranteed by the First Amendment, they say. The FDA did not comment, citing it is against their policy to discuss lawsuits.
Impact of Graphic Labels
The FDA-mandated graphic label warnings may include images of rotting teeth, diseased lungs and dead bodies on cigarette covers. Health experts say these graphic warnings will educate smokers on the deadly consequences and risks of smoking. These warning labels may goad children and adults to stop smoking, health authorities contend.
Cigarette Makers’ View
But, cigarette firms say such labels will make their consumers afraid, discouraged and depressed. Besides, their packages will become mini billboards advocating for the government, they allege.
Deadly Smoking Habit
The CDC reveals that 46 million US adults or more than 20% of the population smoke cigarettes. This percentage has not changed much since 2004. More than 220,000 Americans may contract lung cancer this year. The WHO reports that tobacco may take a toll of about six million lives worldwide this year. Alarmingly, 600,000 of these victims are expected to be nonsmokers.