Smoke Manufacturers Coughing Over Graphic FDA-Mandated Labels

If you’re a former smoker or if you’ve never smoked—as long as you’re not currently smoking–you’re likely to be appalled every time you are in line at a Customer Service aisle of a major supermarket, or at a mini-mart or bodega, or wherever stacks and stacks of cigarette cartons are on display behind the store clerk.  You’re reminded that people are paying exorbitant amounts to do something to themselves that has been proven to NOT promote their general welfare.

The price in some area of the country is somewhere around $6.80 per carton.  (Can you believe a U.S. Territory—the U.S. Virgin Islands–sells them for $17 per carton?)

Before the FDA banned candy and fruit flavored cigarettes in 2009, these were meant to attract teenagers.  Teenagers are still a large smoking demographic. So are many other segments of the population. This, despite the fact that smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in America.

Sometimes, no matter what the FDA or anyone else might hit them over the head with, smokers won’t stop smoking until the inevitable happens.  But then that’s exactly what gets others to stop.  For instance, Barb Tarbox of Edmonton, Canada, an ex-model, “got angry when she got diagnosed with a life-threatening disease”.

According to “The Ultimate Quit Smoking Guide” “She spent the last [seven] months of her life parading her…emaciat[ed] body and bald head[–]due to radiation[–]around schools, TV spots, print ads and anywhere she could [to] get the message across to try and stop ‘even one child from picking up a cigarette’, ” she said.  Apparently, her efforts were not in vain.

So what’s the FDA to do, to show it means business?

Most recently, it’s placed powerful graphics on cigarette labels. And the cigarette manufacturers are putting up a stink.

The Wall Street Journal Law Blog recently noted that tobacco manufactures are suing to block the new cigarette labels.  One label has a picture of a man smoking through a hole in his throat. Another label features pink, healthy lung tissue next to diseased and darkened lung tissue.  Is it enough to turn die-hard smokers off their habit?  According to the  WSJ, the FDA predicts that the new packs will result in 213,000 fewer smokers in the first year alone.

The new labels are due to be affixed on packs in 2012, notes the WSJ.   They will be on the top half of the front and back of the pack—hard to miss, even through a cloud of smoke.  The visual will be accompanied by the message “Smoking can kill you.”

As the WSJ Law Blog has noted in previous pieces, three “tobacco companies have filed litigation claiming that federal labeling rules and marketing restrictions on cigarettes infringe the companies’ free speech rights.”  Now, most recently, a fourth company has filed a suit against the federally-mandated suit, requesting an injunction that will delay the rule’s implementation.  What’s their worded logic?  That it’s unconstitutional.

“The notion that the government can require those who manufacture a lawful product to emblazon half of its package with pictures and words admittedly drafted to persuade the public not to purchase that product cannot withstand constitutional scrutiny,” Lorillard attorney Floyd Abrams said.

To get an idea of how much cigarette cartons cost, go here:



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