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U.S. Will Push to Have Graphic Warnings on Cigarettes
Date:3/1/2012

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, March 1 (HealthDay News) -- Following a move by a U.S. federal judge to block a government mandate calling for graphic anti-smoking images on cigarette packaging, Obama Administration officials said they are 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 in a statement issued late Wednesday. "This public health initiative will be an effective tool in our efforts to stop teenagers from starting in the first place and taking up this deadly habit. We are confident that efforts to stop these important warnings from going forward will ultimately fail."

The proposed requirement from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which was set to kick in this September, would have emblazoned 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 U.S. District Judge Richard Leon, of the U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia, ruled on Wednesday that the FDA mandate violated the U.S. Constitution's free speech amendment.

Back in November, Leon said it was likely that the tobacco industry would succeed in a lawsuit to overturn the requirement. So, he temporarily blocked the FDA initiative until the court case could be resolved, which might take years, the Associated Press reported.

Leon called the FDA mandate a violation of tobacco companies' right to free speech.

Anti-smoking advocates took issue with Leon's latest decision.

"Today's ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon blocking implementation of new, graphic cigarette warning labels is not surprising given his earlier decision to
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