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Thailand court approves graphic warnings on cigarette packages

[JURIST] The Supreme Administrative Court of Thailand on Thursday approved [press release] a new regulation requiring packs of cigarettes sold in the Southeast Asian country to be 85 percent covered with graphic health warnings. The new graphic health warnings have 10 variations, including messages such as "smoking causes lung cancer" and "smoke kills children." Thailand's Ministry of Health's [official website] goals with the implementation of these labels is to reduce new smokers, reduce old smokers in rural areas and reduce threats of second hand smoke. New Thai surveys have shown that new smokers have been increasing on a yearly basis in both children and adults. It is estimated that 50,000 Thai patients were treated or died from diseases caused by cigarettes. The large amount cigarette related diseases has caused for the Thai government and people over a two year period to spend 52,200 million baht on treatments which is the equivalent to .5% of their total GDP.

Graphic warning labels for cigarette packaging have been an ongoing practice around the world. Earlier this year the EU Parliament voted [JURIST report] to approve an anti-tobacco law that requires cigarette makers to increase the size of health warnings on packets from 30 percent to 65 percent of the surface of the package. In August 2012 the High Court of Australia [official website] upheld [JURIST report] a law that requires cigarette packages to display graphic images warning of the dangers of smoking and bans brand logos. In the US there is debate over the constitutionality of graphic cigarette warning labels. The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website] struck down [JURIST report] graphic warnings in August 2012, holding that the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) [official website] rule on graphic cigarette label warnings exceeded the agency's statutory authority and undermined tobacco companies' economic autonomy. However, in March 2012 the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit [official website] upheld the constitutionality [opinion, PDF] of graphic cigarette warning labels, ruling that portions of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (FSPTCA) [HR 1256 text] are a valid restriction of commercial speech and also upheld the FDA's regulations requiring more prominent graphic health warning labels on packaging struck down in an earlier ruling.

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