First Amendment

Four Tobacco Companies File Suit Claiming New Warnings Violate Free Speech Rights

Four of the nation’s five largest tobacco companies claim violations of their free speech rights in a lawsuit challenging new tobacco warning labels.

The new labels include pictures of diseased lungs and the sewn-up corpse of a smoker, the Associated Press reports. Rather than just conveying the facts, the warnings are “an emotionally charged government message urging adult consumers to shun their products,” the suit says.

The warnings must be displayed on the top half of cigarette packs by the fall of 2012, according to the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) and its Law Blog.

The suit says the required images have been manipulated. Next to the diseased lungs, for example, is a photo of healthy lungs cleaned up to make the bad lungs look worse. The corpse is actually an actor with a fake scar playing dead.

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