The federal government fought an uphill battle on Wednesday to convince the skeptical judge that the tobacco companies should be required to put large graphic pictures on cigarette packs to show that the habit kills smokers and their children.
Cigarette manufacturers said U.S. District Judge Richard Leon in the hearings that they may be forced to spread anti-smoking propaganda the government to “massive, shocking, terrible warning” on the products they sell legally. The Obama administration’s lawyers objected that the photos of dead patients and smokers, he wants all cigarette packages are “virtually uncontroversial.”
Leon has ruled that cigarette manufacturers likely to succeed in its lawsuit to stop the demand, which was to take effect next year. Leon usually blocked from taking effect until after the trial is resolved.
Leon found in his earlier ruling that the nine graphic images approved by the Food and Drug Administration in June, goes beyond the transmission of facts about the risks of smoking to health.
Leon also ruled the size of the labels suggests they are unconstitutional — the FDA requirement said the labels were to cover the entire top half of cigarette packs, front and back and include the number of quit smoking hotline. Labels were up 20 percent of cigarette advertising and marketing to turn the use of the images.
The judge showed no signs that he changed his position in favor of the government after an hour hearing on Wednesday. “It looks like they went to the place where you should look for a 10-minute video before you can even purchase a pack of cigarettes,” he said.
The packaging the government wanted to require included color images of human exhale cigarette smoke through a tracheotomy hole in his throat; plume of cigarette smoke enveloping the infant receives the kiss of mother, a pair of diseased lungs next to a pair of healthy lungs, the patient suffering from a mouth that seems to have cancerous lesions, a man breathing oxygen mask ; corpse on the table with a post-staples opening the chest, the women wept premature baby in an incubator, a man dressed in a T-shirt that shows the “No Smoking” symbol and the words “I Quit”
The Obama administration has appealed Leon’s preliminary injunction stopping the rule from taking effect. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia is scheduled to hear the case April 10.
Congress instructed the FDA to require the labels by a wide bipartisan majority.