• June 15, 2024

Court Refuses to Hear Health Label Challenge

 Court Refuses to Hear Health Label Challenge
Photo: William A. Morgan

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit has refused to hear the tobacco industry’s challenge to graphic health warnings required by a 2020 Food and Drug Administration rule.

In March, a three-judge panel of the same court ruled that the federal requirement for cigarette packs and advertising, which includes graphic images of the effects of smoking, including images of smoke-damaged lungs and blackened feet, does not violate the First Amendment of the Constitution, reports AP News.

The March ruling affirmed that the FDA’s graphic cigarette warnings are both scientifically and legally sound. Proponents say these graphic warnings are critically needed as the current text-only warnings have become stale and unnoticed since they were last updated in 1984.

The three-judge panel ruling overturned a lower court order from a Texas federal district court, which ruled that the requirements violate the First Amendment.

Congress first mandated the graphic health warnings as part of the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which required graphic warnings covering the top half of the front and back of cigarette packs and 20 percent of cigarette advertisements.

Anti-smoking activists welcomed the appeals court’s refusal to hear the industry’s challenge.

“Because of the tobacco industry’s repeated legal challenges, the U.S. currently ranks last in the world in the size of its cigarette warnings and has fallen behind the rest of the world in implementing graphic warnings, which are now required by 138 countries and territories,” said Yolonda C. Richardson, president and CEO of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, in a statement.

“It is time for the U.S. to catch up with the rest of the world in implementing this best-practice policy to reduce tobacco use and save lives.”