High court refuses to consider graphic cigarette warnings

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted April 29, 2013

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In a significant victory for public health advocates, the U.S. Supreme Court has declined to review a lower court decision upholding a Food and Drug Administration rule requiring graphic warning labels on cigarette packages.

Several national tobacco companies, including R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., sued the FDA in 2009 over the rule, which requires graphic warnings to cover the top half of cigarette packs and make up 20% of cigarette ads. The companies said the requirements violated their free-speech rights.

Lower courts upheld the rule, including the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Legal observers believed the U.S. Supreme Court might take up the case because of a conflicting decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. However, the Supreme Court on April 22 refused to examine the issue, leaving the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling intact. The decision allows the FDA to move forward with implementing the new graphic cigarette warnings.

The American Medical Association joined other health organizations in submitting three friend-of-the-court briefs in support of the warnings.

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