Federal health officials Wednesday unveiled plans to require cigarette packs and ads to carry dramatically bigger, much more graphic health warnings, including for the first time images that might depict dead bodies, cancer patients and diseased lungs.
The new warnings, which will mark the first replacement of warnings that cigarette packs began carrying 25 years ago, will cover half the front and back of each pack and 20 percent of the top of each ad.
"Today marks an important milestone in protecting our children and the health of the American public," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said
This will never stand up in court.
A group of tobacco companies has filed a lawsuit claiming that the new federal law giving the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is unconstitutional, the Wall Street Journal reported Sept. 1.
Firms including Reynolds American and Lorillard claim that the law infringes upon their First Amendment rights by expanding the size of warning labels on cigarette packs and hindering their ability to market products like smokeless tobacco as less risky than smoking.
"The case will be about whether Congress has gone too far about preventing tobacco companies from communicating with adults, and keeping adults from receiving the information that tobacco companies want to send to them," said Lorillard attorney Floyd Abrams.
Altria, the parent company of Philip Morris, supported the FDA bill and is not a party to the lawsuit. "Our goal is to work constructively with the FDA around some of our concerns," regarding advertising and marketing restrictions, a company spokesperson said.
The lawsuit could delay implementation of the law.