Eight public health groups recently filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to force the government to require graphic warning labels on packs of cigarettes.
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Cancer Society, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Truth Initiative and several individual pediatricians.
The groups maintain that the FDA is required by law to issue a final rule implementing a section of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009, which requires cigarette packages and advertisements to bear color graphic images and specified textual warnings.
On June 21, 2011, the FDA announced the nine graphic cigarette health warnings required to appear on every pack of cigarettes, carton and cigarette advertisement no later than September 2012. However, tobacco companies sued, and those labels were struck down in federal court on First Amendment grounds in 2013. The FDA has not taken up the issue of graphic warning labels since.
The suit is asking the court to set a deadline for the FDA to establish a new graphic warning rule, saying that the FDA “has been in violation (of the 2009 law) for more than four years.”
Across the globe, the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids estimates that more than 90 other countries have graphic warning labels, with Australia and Spain including photos on cigarette packs of gangrenous feet and decaying teeth.