Obama Administration Fights for Graphic Cigarette Warning Labels

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Obama Administration Fights for Graphic Cigarette Warning Labels


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Nearly three months after a federal judge ruled that the tobacco companies could win their lawsuit against new graphic cigarette warning labels, the federal government is fighting back.

At a meeting yesterday, an attorney for the Obama administration were before U.S. District Judge Richard Leon to argue that the new graphic warning labels -- a mix of text and images -- are "factually uncontroverted," USA Today reported.

On the other side of the issue, the cigarette manufacturers present at the hearing argued that they can't be forced to spread the government's anti-smoking message on products they legally sell.

The debate stems from the nine new graphic warnings that the Food and Drug Administration released in June. The agency has mandated that those warnings appear on all cigarette packaging and advertising effective Sept. 22. However, the tobacco companies fought back on first amendment grounds and filed a lawsuit in August. The plaintiffs in the suit include R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Lorillard Tobacco Co., Commonwealth Brands Inc., Liggett Group and Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co.

Leon took up the issue in September and ruled in November that the tobacco companies would most likely be successful in their challenge. Furthermore, he issued a temporary injunction against the warning labels until the lawsuit is settled, as CSNews Online previously reported.

According to the USA Today report, Leon may still feel the same way on this issue. "It sounds like they are headed to place where you have to watch a 10-minute video before you can even buy a pack of cigarettes," he commented during the hour-long meeting held yesterday.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia is slated to hear the Obama administration's appeal on April 10.