It’s both, really. But, unfortunately, a federal judge ruled today that requiring tobacco companies to place such graphic warnings on their cigarette packages was in violation of free speech. Yes, it may be gross and borderline offensive to many people, but what else is going to get the 46 million people in the U.S. (that’s 20% of our population) to quit killing themselves and others around them?
According to the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act which was passed in 2009, this law requires warnings like “Cigarettes are addictive” and “Tobacco smoke causes harm to children,” to appear on all tobacco packaging, but this judge says the newer proposed labels go too far beyond that.
Judge Richard L. Leon said that calling the labels “graphic warnings” doesn’t go far enough. “They are more about shocking and repelling than warning,” he wrote, adding later that the images serve as a deterrent to people buying cigarettes.
Exactly. And what is wrong with that? Don’t we want to deter people from buying cigarettes and prevent all of the health (and insurance-related) effects that go along with that? Apparently not, because the tobacco companies think this is unconstitutional. Not to mention that it would cut into their potential profits, and we all know that money is more important that someone’s health. Riiight.
FDA Commissioner, Margaret Hamburg told NPR that labels like this are not only effective, but necessary because the past warnings have been largely ignored:
We absolutely believe that these warning labels will make a difference.
She went on to say that other countries have used such graphic labels for years and have been successful with that approach.
The Justice Department is expected to appeal the ruling, but in the mean time, we want to know what you think!
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