1 March 2012 - 10:48am | posted by | 0 comments

Horror 'hole in the throat' cigarette labels are blocked by a judge

Breathing aid: a hole in the throatBreathing aid: a hole in the throat

They would have been the most horrific images on cigarette packets yet. Now this label here - together with images of a body on an autopsy table and diseased lungs - have been blocked by an American judge.

He agreed with tobacco companies who claimed the government was violating their constitutional rights to free speech by making them them display the labels.

The judgment by Judge Richard Leon in Washington DC follows a a temporary injunction in November when he said the tobacco companies had demonstrated "a substantial likelihood" of winning the case on constitutional grounds.

The government has appealed that ruling, and it is believed the case will finish up in the US Supreme Court .

The Wall Street Journal says today that the new ruling makes it more difficult—if not impossible—for the Food and Drug Administration to implement new regulations by this September, as planned.

The FDA was put in charge of tobacco regulations in 2009 . It wants to cut the U.S. smoking rate, currently stuck at 20%, to 12% by 2020 .The new horror labels labels are part of the biggest overhaul of cigarette health warnings in 20 years.

Warnings at present appear in a small box with black-and-white text. The new colour labels - nine in all - would cover the top half of the front and back of cigarette packets .

Judge Leon said the new images here were not designed to increase consumer awareness of smoking risks. " Rather, they were crafted to evoke a strong emotional response calculated to provoke the viewer to quit or never start smoking."

Cheryl Healton, president of anti-smoking group Legacy said, "Every day we spend not visually portraying the hard truth about smoking to the public is a lethal opportunity loss."

Cigarettes are linked to an estimated 443,000 deaths a year in the U.S., said the WSJ.

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