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U.S. Abandons Effort to Place Graphic Labeling on Cigarettes
Date:3/21/2013

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, March 20 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. government won't pursue a legal battle to mandate large, gruesome images on cigarette labeling in an effort to dissuade potential smokers and get current smokers to quit.

According to a letter from Attorney General Eric Holder obtained by the Associated Press, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration now plans to revise its proposed label changes with less unsettling approaches.

The decision comes ahead of a Monday deadline set for the agency to petition the U.S. Supreme Court on the issue. In August, an appeals court upheld a prior ruling that the labeling requirement infringed on First Amendment free speech protections.

"In light of these circumstances, the Solicitor General has determined ... not to seek Supreme Court review of the First Amendment issues at the present time," Holder wrote in the Friday letter to House of Representatives' Speaker John Boehner.

The proposed label requirement from the FDA -- which had been set to begin last September -- would have emblazoned cigarette packaging with images of people dying from smoking-related disease, mouth and gum damage linked to smoking and other graphic portrayals of the harms of smoking.

Some of the nation's largest tobacco companies filed lawsuits to invalidate the requirement for the new labels. The companies contended that the proposed warnings went beyond factual information into anti-smoking advocacy, the AP reported.

In February 2012, 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. And in August, a U.S. appeals court upheld that lower court ruling.

Proposed label changes to tobacco products are a part of the requirements of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which was signed into law in 2009 by
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