Cigarettes

Court Upholds Block on Requiring Graphic Ads on Cigarette Packs

Divided court rules 2-1 it violates principles of free speech.

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The federal government can't require tobacco companies to put large graphic health warnings on cigarette packages to show that smoking can disfigure and even kill people, a divided federal appeals court panel ruled Friday.

In a 2-1 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington affirmed a lower court ruling that the requirement ran afoul of the First Amendment's free speech protections. The appeals court tossed out the requirement and told the Food and Drug Administration to go back to the drawing board. The decision is considered a blow to one of the Obama administration's major public health initiatives, raises the prospect of another U.S. Supreme Court tobacco battle and opens the door to further challenges of FDA's regulatory scheme.