Heartland Institute Responds to Court Decision on Tobacco Warning Labels

Published November 7, 2011

A federal judge on Monday blocked the Food and Drug Administration’s new mandate that packs, cartons, and advertisements for cigarettes come with large and graphic new warning labels.

The decision suspends a plan by the FDA to force tobacco companies to use one of nine graphic images of anti-smoking advertisements.

The following statement from attorney Maureen Martin, a senior fellow for The Heartland Institute, may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact Tammy Nash at [email protected] and 312/377-4000. After regular business hours, contact Jim Lakely at [email protected] and 312/731-9364.

“Even tobacco companies have constitutional rights, a federal district court in Washington, DC ruled Monday.


“The ruling is an important victory for anyone who has railed against living in the slavery imposed by a 24/7 Nanny State.

“A 2009 federal law required tobacco companies to place graphic images on cigarette packages depicting the ‘negative consequences’ of smoking. The FDA was charged with implementing this law, and it issued a rule in June 2011 requiring images of dead bodies on slabs in the mortuary, a woman weeping uncontrollably, and a premature baby in an incubator, among others, to be placed on the top half of a cigarette package.

“The law requires warning labels to be educational, but the government conceded the purpose of these images was to convince people not to smoke. The ability of these images to accomplish that purpose, the government admitted, was the only reason they were selected.

“The court held the First Amendment includes not only the right to free speech, but also ‘the right to refrain from speaking at all,’ which was violated by the federal law.

“The court enjoined the rule from going forward pending resolution of the case on its merits, which is years away.”

Maureen Martin
Senior Fellow for Legal Affairs
The Heartland Institute
[email protected]
920/ 295-6032

The Heartland Institute is a 27-year-old national nonprofit organization with offices in Chicago, Illinois; Washington, DC; Austin, Texas; Tallahassee, Florida; and Columbus, Ohio. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our Web site or call 312/377-4000.