After my original post about the court case between tobacco companies and the US Government, I’ve been eagerly awaiting the court’s decision. The news hit last month [BBC] with the appeals court in Washington ruling that “The US government cannot force tobacco firms to put large graphic health warnings on cigarette packages“. I was very pleased with the result because it’s the position I took in my post 12 months ago – a government has no right forcing a company to market it’s products towards it’s financial ruin. Whether you’re a pro, anti, or couldn’t care less about smoking – this case is important because it is really about freedom of speech, capitalism, and especially with the US election coming up – size of government.
Five tobacco companies in America are suing the FDA over a new law that forces them to slap graphic warnings on their cigarette packages. The companies state this law is in direct contraction of their first amendment right to free speech because, “they can’t require a cigarette pack to serve as a mini-billboard for the government’s anti-smoking campaign” [Floyd Abrams, lawyer]. The opposing side states that “the new labels could deter young people from starting to smoke and give adult smokers a new incentive to quit.” [Kathleen Sebelius, Health Secretary]. The question I had was: do these labels have proven, scientific efficacy in stopping smoking or detering it? I set to find just what the link is between pictures of gnarly medical abominations and people not sucking on a stick all day.