A federal judge has blocked a requirement that would have forced tobacco companies to include graphic images on cigarette packages next September. Advocacy groups have fought tobacco companies for several years to increase public awareness of the dangers of smoking. The blocked legislation requires cigarette packs to feature graphic images such as diseased lungs or dead bodies.
“Not everybody is noticing the written warning anymore not everyone can read, children may not notice it and so it’s time to take it to the next level. Science has proven this is an effective way to prevent people from smoking, to help people quit, to prevent youths from starting,” said Betsy Janes, director of advocacy for Kentucky’s chapter of the American Lung Association, one of several groups fighting against tobacco companies.
Bowling Green-based cigarette manufacturer Commonwealth Brands Incorporated is one of five companies that filed suit against the FDA. They argue the FDA is forcing tobacco companies to advocate against smoking, and they argue this is a violation of their right to free speech.
Advocacy groups have asked the Justice Department to appeal the U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon’s decision.
“This is a tactic that tobacco companies use opposing all sorts of legislation, whether it be smoke free laws in Kentucky, we’ve seen this in Bullitt County recently, or whether it be federal legislation,” said Janes.