Judge Directs FDA to Move Fast on Graphic Cigarette Warnings
BOSTON — Graphic warnings could be coming to cigarette packs sooner rather than later.
On Sept. 5, Judge Indira Talwani in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts ruled the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must finish writing a rule requiring graphic warnings on cigarette packages and advertisements, The Associated Press reported.
The 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act specified that cigarette packages and advertisements have larger and more visible graphic health warnings.
In June 2011, the FDA issued its final nine health warnings, which were set to appear on every cigarette pack and ad by September 2012.
However, the graphic warnings were struck down in 2012 after a challenge by several tobacco companies, including Lorillard Inc., R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Commonwealth Brands Inc. and Liggett Group LLC.
In a 2-to-1 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., affirmed a lower court ruling that the requirement violated the First Amendment's free speech protections. The appeals court tossed out the requirement and told the FDA to go back to the drawing board, as Convenience Store News previously reported.
On Oct. 4, 2016, eight public health and medical groups, and several individual pediatricians, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts to force the agency to issue a final rule requiring the warnings on cigarette packs and advertising, as mandated by the Tobacco Control Act.
Under Talwani's orders, the FDA has until Sept. 26 to provide the court with an expedited schedule for publication of the new proposed warnings.
An FDA spokesman said the agency continues "to move forward on the work to support a new rulemaking." He said the FDA is analyzing the judge's decision and will comply with the court, according to the AP.