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Appeals Court Backs FDA Move for Graphic Images on Cigarette Packs
Date:3/19/2012

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, March 19 (HealthDay News) -- In the latest salvo in the battle over U.S. government plans to put graphic anti-smoking images on cigarette packs, a federal appeals court has upheld the proposed changes.

According to the Associated Press, the lawsuit against the label changes was filed in Kentucky, but on Monday a federal appeals court in Ohio that was reviewing the case voted 2 to 1 to uphold the new law, part of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.

A separate lawsuit aimed at blocking the labeling changes had a different outcome: last month, a federal judge in Washington, D.C. blocked the move, claiming it violated free speech. At the time, Obama Administration officials said they were determined to fight back and keep the rule in place.

"This Administration is determined to do everything we can to warn young people about the dangers of smoking, which remains the leading cause of preventable death in America," the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said at the time.

The proposed requirement from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which is set to take effect this September, would emblazon cigarette packaging with images of people dying from smoking-related disease, mouth and gum damage linked to smoking and other gruesome portrayals of the harms of smoking.

But on Feb. 29 U.S. District Judge Richard Leon, of the U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia, ruled that the FDA mandate violated the U.S. Constitution's free speech amendment.

Anti-smoking advocates strongly back the FDA proposal, however.

"We're pleased that the U.S. Department of Justice has already appealed the earlier [Washington, D.C.] ruling and is working to preserve this critical requirement of the landmark 2009 law giving the Food and Drug Administration the authority to regulate tobacco products," Matthew Myers, president for the
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