Butt out is the message from four of the five largest cigarette
manufacturers who have filed suit in a Washington, D.C., federal
court challenging new FDA regulations that require them to print
nine graphic images on their cigarette packaging.
Under the FDA rule, the images must be printed in color and
displayed on the top 50 percent of the both the front and back
panels of every pack. Grim news has to cover the top 20 percent of
all printed cigarette advertising. In addition, the FDA says, every
pack of cigarettes must contain the words "QUIT-NOW." And there is
an 800 quit smoking hotline number that has to be there too.
It takes a lot for an industry that has been trying to fend off
further FDA regulation if not outright prohibition to tangle with a
tough public health campaign. But, led by the famous First
Amendment litigator Floyd Abrams, the tobacco industry has decided
to risk the wrath of the FDA and the antismoking lobby. With this
suit they are crying "no mas" to any depictions of people
smoking through their throats, wearing oxygen masks, holes in their
lips, corpses, choking babies, rotting teeth, and blackened lungs
gracing their packaging.
With smokers confined to tiny claustrophobic huts in airports,
cigarettes being taxed into the stratosphere, and cities banning
smoking indoors and outdoors, can Big Tobacco possibly have a case?
Legally - maybe. Ethically - no.
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