Judge Blocks Law Requiring “Gruesome Images” On Cigarette Packages

A federal law that would require tobacco companies to place gruesome images on cigarette packaging has been shot down by U.S. District Judge Richard Leon.

Leon wrote in his ruling that cigarette manufacturers would likely succeed in protecting their first amendment freedom of speech rights if the law was allowed to go into effect and he then stopped the amendment until the lawsuit is resolved which will likely take years.

The Food and Drug Administration originally approved nine graphic images that conveyed the health risks associated with smoking including lung disease and death.

At the heart of the case is whether the images simply convey the health risks associated with smoking or enter into the realm of advocacy.

According to Newser the images include:

“A cloud of cigarette smoke within inches of a baby’s face; a pair of healthy lungs next to the diseased lungs of a smoker and a warning that smoking causes fatal lung disease; a smoker’s stained teeth and a lip diseased by cigarettes; and a dead smoker on an autopsy table with surgical stitches in his chest and the words “Smoking can kill you.”

Each image would have covered the entire top half of a cigarette pack on both the back and front sides and would include a stop-smoking hotline.

In the meantime tobacco companies are worried that their own branding is put at risk when their packages are forced to share images between brands.

Suing the Federal government are Reynolds Tobacco Co. , Lorillard Tobacco Co., Commonwealth Brands Inc. Liggett Group, and Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co.

Do you believe the images are against freedom of speech rights?