Four of the five biggest tobacco companies in the U.S. have filed a lawsuit over new warning labels to appear on packs of cigarettes. The labels include graphic pictures, such as a sewn up corpse with the warning "Smoking can kill you." The lawsuit alleges that the labels violate free speech rights.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved the nine new warnings. The labels, scheduled to appear on cigarette packs early next year, will cycle through the nine different graphics, and cover the top half, front and back, of the packaging. The warnings also must constitute 20 percent of money spent on cigarette advertising, and include a stop-smoking hotline number. The FDA declined to comment to the Associated Press about the lawsuit, saying it can't comment on pending litigation.
Among other points, the lawsuit contends that the images were manipulated to be emotionally charged, and that incorporating the labels into cigarette pack design will cost tobacco companies millions of dollars.
This lawsuit is separate from the suit several of the same companies brought against the federal government over the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.
Smoking is the leading cause of premature and preventable death in the U.S., responsible for 443,000 deaths each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And while the number of smokers in the U.S. has dropped over the past 30 years, the CDC says the rates have remained more or less steady in the last 5 years.
Tobacco companies file lawsuit over warning labels [Associated Press]
Cigarette Health Warnings [FDA]