Ruling on Tobacco Products Could Have Broader Implications for FDA

Posted 01 March 2012 | By Alexander Gaffney, RAC 

A ruling by the DC Circuit Court of Appeals could have broader implications for the US Food and Drug Administration's attempts to regulate products by mandating uniform labeling.

In a decision, Judge Richard Leon ruled that FDA was not lawful when it required cigarette companies to label their tobacco products with graphic, shocking images.

"The government has failed to carry both its burden of demonstrating a compelling interest and its burden of demonstrating that the rule is narrowly tailored to achieve a constitutionally permissible form of compelled commercial speech," wrote Leon in a 19-page ruling. While discouraging smoking as a matter of public health "might be compelling, an interest in simply advocating that the public not purchase a legal product is not," continued Leon.

The wording of Leon's ruling could place many FDA labeling regulations at risk.

The ruling "ignores decades of First Amendment precedent that support the right of the government to require strong warning labels to protect the public health," Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said in a statement.

The government is expected to appeal the ruling.

Read more:

Reuters - Tobacco health labels unconstitutional: judge

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