"We're pleased that the U.S. Department of Justice has already appealed the earlier 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. If allowed to stand, Judge Leon's rulings would make it impossible to implement any effective warning labels."
Oral arguments on the appeal have been scheduled for April, according to a spokesman for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
The FDA has contended that the benefits to the public of highlighting the dangers of smoking outweigh the tobacco industry's free speech rights.
Leon said last fall that the nine graphic images, which were approved by the FDA, did more than just convey facts about the health risks of smoking -- they took an advocacy stance, a key distinction in a free-speech case.
"It is abundantly clear from viewing these images that the emotional response they were crafted to induce is calculated to provoke the viewer to quit, or never to start smoking -- an objective wholly apart from disseminating purely factual and uncontroversial information," Leon wrote in his 29-page opinion issued Nov. 7.
The nine proposed images, designed to fill the top half of all cigarette packs, have stirred controversy since the concept first emerged in 2009.
One image shows a man's face and a lighted cigarette in his hand, with smoke escaping from a hole in his neck -- the result of a tracheotomy. The caption reads "Cigarettes are addictive." Another image shows a mother holding a baby as smoke swirls about them, with the warning: "Tobacco smoke can harm your children."
A third image depicts a distraught woman with the caption: "Warning: Smoking causes fatal lung disease in nonsmokers."
A fourth pictu
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