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Federal appeals court rejects rehearing request on graphic cigarette label requirement

The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website] on Wednesday denied a request for a rehearing on Food and Drug Administration (FDA) [official website] regulations that require tobacco companies to display graphic images on their packaging. In a 2-1 decision issued in August, the DC Circuit struck down [JURIST report] the regulations, holding that the FDA's rule on graphic cigarette label warnings exceeded the agency's statutory authority and undermined tobacco companies' economic autonomy. In the previous opinion one judge dissented, arguing that the government has a strong interest in conveying information on cigarette packages to consumers about the health risks of smoking. The government as 90 days to appeal the case [AP report] to the US Supreme Court [official website].

In March the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled that the graphic cigarette label warnings are constitutional. The court decided unanimously that the portions of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (FSPTCA) [HR 1256 text] designed to limit the tobacco industry's ability to advertise to children, including a ban on distributing clothing and goods with logos or brand names, as well as sponsorship of cultural, athletic and social events requiring cigarette packaging and advertisements, is a valid restriction of commercial speech.

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