Judge Blocks Graphic Cigarette Warnings

WASHINGTON - A federal judge has blocked the Food and Drug Administration rule requiring tobacco companies to include graphic images depicting the health effects of smoking on packaging, according to published reports.

WASHINGTON - A federal judge has blocked the Food and Drug Administration rule requiring tobacco companies to include graphic images depicting the health effects of smoking on packaging, according to published reports.

Cigarette makers R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Lorillard Tobacco Co., Commonwealth Brands Inc., Liggett Group and Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co. are suing the FDA under the grounds the requirement forces them to take part in anti-smoking advocacy in violation of their First Amendment rights. The judge granted a temporary injunction, saying the companies would likely win.

In June, the FDA issued nine text warnings and accompanying color graphics designed to increase awareness of the specific health risks associated with smoking. Images included a set of healthy pink lungs next to a diseased pair with the caption “Warning: Cigarettes cause fatal lung disease” and a human cadaver with the message “Warning: Smoking can kill you."

Marking the first change in cigarette warnings in more than 25 years, the mandate was to take effect next September.