Judge Rules Tobacco Warning Labels Violate Constitutional Rights

By Scott Sarvay
By Maureen Mespell

March 1, 2012 Updated Mar 1, 2012 at 7:15 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (Indiana’s NewsCenter) – A US judge is siding with tobacco companies by saying that the graphic warning labels on cigarette packaging and advertisements violates free-speech.

The warnings depict the dangers of smoking with images of rotting teeth, diseased lungs and other shocking illustrations.

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon ruled that while the imagery is educational it might be compelling the public not to purchase a legal product.

In 2009 Congress passed a law ordering the FDA to adopt the label regulation, which requires color warning labels big enough to cover the top 50 percent of a cigarette pack's front and back panels, and the top 20 percent of print advertisements.

In 2011, a judge granted a preliminary injunction blocking the new label requirement from taking effect. The Obama administration however appealed the decision.

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