Advertising Law

DC Circuit Strikes Down FDA Rules Requiring Graphic Images on Cigarette Packaging

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Photo from the U.S Food and Drug Administration.

Federal rules which require graphic warning images on cigarette packages were struck down today in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, on the basis that the mandates violate corporate speech rights.

One of the images featured a man exhaling smoke through a hole in his throat, Reuters reports. Writing for the majority, Judge Janice Rogers Brown found in favor of R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, saying (PDF) that the case raises “novel questions” about what the government can require in commercial disclosures.

The 2-1 D.C. finding contrasts with a 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals opinion (PDF), released in March, which held that the labels do not restrict corporate speech.

The rules were introduced in 2009, under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.

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