Tobacco Companies Fight Fed

Posted on February 27, 2012 by


The perpetual battle between the federal government and the tobacco industry rages on over whether it is constitutional for the government to make cigarette companies place images of dead or dying people on cigarette packs.

On Wednesday, 2 February, the government struggled to convince U.S. District Judge Richard Leon that tobacco companies should have to put large and very graphic pictures on their packs to show what happens to smokers.

The tobacco companies who make cigarettes said that they cannot be forced to comply with or spread the government’s anti-smoking advocacy by putting the pictures they referred to as shocking, gruesome warnings.

The images were to take up the entire top half of the cigarette packs, both the front and the back, and would contain images such as diseased lungs next to healthy lungs, premature babies in incubators, a cadaver post autopsy with staples through its chest, diseased mouths with cancerous lesions, and many others. The cigarette industry would have to rotate which images were used on their packs periodically.

The U.S. attorney for the government in this case, Mark Stern, said the government wishes to show smokers that their smoking will kill them, their habit will kill them, and it will kill their baby too.

While lawyer Noel Francisco, who represented the tobacco companies, said that the government is free to tell people how to live their lives but that the tobacco industry will not be made an unwilling partner in their crusade against smoking.

“It sounds like we are heading to a place where you have to watch a 10 minute video before you can even buy a pack of cigarettes,” Leon said.

However, Leon’s preliminary injunction was stopped by an appeal from the Obama administration, and the case is set to take place in the U.S. Court of appeals on 10 April.

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