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FDA to appeal order blocking new tobacco warning label requirements

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) [official website] on Tuesday filed notice that it intends to appeal [text, PDF] an injunction that blocked new graphic warning labels on cigarette packages. In early November, a judge for the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] temporarily blocked [JURIST report] the implementation of graphic image and textual warning labels imposed by the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (FSPTCA) [HR 1256 text]. The FDA has mandated that by September 2012, all cigarette packaging shall contain new warning labels [FDA backgrounder] with graphic images of the health issues related to smoking and related textual warnings. The major cigarette manufacturers requested the injunction on the basis that the new regulations violate their First Amendment rights and burden their right to commercial speech by compelling placement of the new warning labels on the top 50 and bottom 20 percent of all packaging and advertisements. The FDA is now planning to appeal that injunction to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website].

New tobacco warning labels have also drawn scrutiny in Australia, where Philip Morris has filed a complaint [JURIST report] to block new graphic warning label requirements [AUS Health Dept. backgrounder] recently enacted in that country. In 2009, US President Barack Obama [official website] signed the FSPTCA into law [JURIST report], granting the FDA certain authority to regulate manufactured tobacco products. The legislation heightens warning-label requirements, prohibits marketing "light cigarettes" as a healthier alternative and allows for the regulation of cigarette ingredients. Cigarettes and other tobacco products have been subject to strict marketing regulations on both the federal and state levels.

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