The implementation date for graphic health warnings in the United States has been pushed back by another three months, to Oct. 6, 2023, reports the Winston-Salem Journal.
On Aug. 10, a U.S. District Court Judge in Texas approved the most recent launch date postponement for cigarette manufacturers. It is at least the ninth judge-ordered delay.
The FDA released its final rule requiring new graphic warnings for cigarettes in March 2020. The rule calls for labels that feature some of the lesser known health risks of smoking, such as diabetes. The graphic warnings must cover the top 50 percent of the front and rear panels of packages as well as at least 20 percent of the top of advertisements.
In April and May 2020, cigarette manufacturers and retailers sued the FDA, arguing that the graphic warning requirements amount to governmental anti-smoking advocacy because the government has never forced makers of a legal product to use their own advertising to spread an emotionally charged message urging adults not to use their products.
In a more recent challenge, tobacco companies argued that the deadline was too onerous due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. They also pointed to the risk that they would lose their investments in new packaging if the graphic health warning requirement were to be thrown out in court.
In March 2021, the Texas District Court granted a motion by the plaintiffs to postpone the effective date of the final rule to April 14, 2022. The move was followed by additional postponements.