Cigarette Warning Ads and Free Speech

FDA cigarette warning showing healthy and diseased lungs

One of the FDA’s new warning labels

Several of the nation’s largest tobacco companies are suing the federal government alleging that graphic warning labels on cigarette ads and packaging, planned to take effect a year from now, are unconstitutional. Claiming their First Amendment rights are being infringed, the companies say the required labeling amounts to “screaming” at potential buyers not to purchase their product, which is itself lawful to produce and sell. The lead lawyer for the tobacco companies calls the new warnings “direct advocacy to not buy the product, as opposed to a straightforward warning.” The companies may seek an injunction against the implementation of the new regulations.

The Food and Drug Administration and the Health and Human Services Department and the officials who head them are the specific targets of the lawsuit. These are the primary government agencies that deal with public health. The FDA announced in June 2011 that new warning labels with graphic photos and the phone number 1-800-QUIT-NOW would have to cover half of each cigarette pack. Warnings first appeared on cigarette packs in 1965 but have not undergone changes in 25 years.

Although the FDA has not issued any comment on the lawsuit, its official Web site notes that “tobacco use is the leading cause of premature and preventable death in the United States” and is responsible for nearly 500,000 deaths yearly from lung disease, cancer, stroke, and heart disease. The agency believes the new warnings are a major step forward in communicating the dangers of tobacco use and expects them to not only decrease the number of smokers, but save lives, increase life expectancy, and reduce health care costs. In particular, the FDA hopes that the gross images will persuade impressionable children and youth not to smoke.

Image credit: © U.S. HHS

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87 Comments

  1. N/C says:

    THE PICTURE LOOKS LIKE BURNT CHICKEN.. JUST SAYING:/

  2. nina says:

    why would anyone want to smoke anyways?

  3. mariama says:

    so this is how your heart ganna look when you smoke. ewww

  4. Jenn says:

    HOLY POOP THATS NASSSTTYY!

  5. Anonymous says:

    this is so disgusting

  6. sarah says:

    this is so dugusting

  7. kayann says:

    thats growse thats why people dont need to smoke ewwwwwww

  8. Ksoukrasmy038 says:

    Thats why i will never smoke!

  9. mahailey {MA-hai -Lee} says:

    what and how lungs are thoses and do they thake ur lugs when ur dead

  10. brady says:

    ewwwwww looks like my purse

  11. Jacob says:

    HORRIBLE SIGHT!!!

  12. abby says:

    thats what happpens when u smoke!terrible happen when u smoke!

  13. Fiona says:

    That is so gross! This is why you don’t smoke!

  14. Levi says:

    my family has been against smoking and doing drugs for generations. I think that it’s just dumb to start smoking in the first place.

  15. sarah says:

    i am going to stop smoking dope, man

  16. daren says:

    awwwwww,man

  17. Marylada says:

    Play informative for me, Mr. innteert writer.

  18. alex says:

    oh my gosh people dont how hamful that can be

  19. priceless says:

    smoking is bad for u

  20. sophiabarone says:

    i totally loved the idea of the warning labels for the cigeratte packs. and like once i read this i showed it to one of my uncles and he like totally changed and he is in great shape :)

  21. poop says:

    ew. looks like my poop.

  22. You dont need to know!!! says:

    this is bad for you

  23. ryan says:

    sucks to be them

  24. Anonymous says:

    that is gross! for all the people that smoke out there you should really stop!!!!

  25. u know says:

    for all the people that smoke out there they should really stop. any one in there right mind would have not even started in the first place. and if u think its cool then you r sadly mistaken

  26. Megan says:

    DUUUUUUUUUUDE! YOu have to have serious metal issues if you want your lungs to look like crispy chicken!

  27. megan says:

    ewwww i would hate that so much i hate when people smoke. :P ew.

  28. emily says:

    ewww why would you smoke in the first place

  29. Bridget says:

    EWWWW that stuff looks so disgusting

  30. Anne says:

    Why would you do something like that?! People should outlaw smoking!

  31. Hayley says:

    sucks to suck.

  32. YO MOMMA says:

    I dream of flying with a mystical pony while drinking milkshakes and eating wood chips, if only the pony could solve my geometry

  33. Tocoralampagosa Lo says:

    Vell i smoke and i is healthy!!!

  34. raivon says:

    i smoke every day

  35. amberina says:

    yum

  36. BLAKE says:

    I GOT TO QUIT SMOKING

  37. SPONGEBOB says:

    THT IS SOO COOL

  38. angel says:

    ad to be them

  39. Vinny says:

    I hate smokeing

  40. anonymous says:

    smoking is seriously bad..

  41. nonymous says:

    dude… smoking sucks no matter what

  42. Vector says:

    gross! i will never smoke

  43. Vector says:

    gross! i will never smoke

  44. Michelle Malpica Salgado says:

    P.S I WOULD NEVER SMOKE!!!!!!
    YUKKKKKKKKKKKKKK

  45. u'meekaa says:

    ew that look nasty

  46. lucky says:

    stop smoking that crack

  47. sddr says:

    ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwww

  48. not going to smoke ever says:

    ahhhhhhhhhh y would they make smoke in the first place if they knew it was going to do that and they even say it on the box warning may cause lung cancer and gum diseas and in my health class a lady showed actual lungs one that smoke and one that didnt the smoker was all black and torned up and the healthy was pink and healthy looking

  49. Destiny Stille says:

    WOW this is horible im never ever planning on smoking at all and i seriously mean that i dont want to die f lung cancer i want to be healthy and clean my whole life!!! it makes me wonder why they even decided to have ciggerates any way especially if you can die from smoking them like seriously no one wants to die from cancer!

  50. Destiny Stille says:

    :) thats what i have to say!!

  51. Destiny Stille says:

    welll i think a population of people die from smoking!!! :(

  52. OcutieO says:

    Hia people… This is vewy gross… I have two nieghbors eho smoke…I bet thier lungs are like that picture… Mi niebors died 2 month ago… If yall have parents who smoke, tell them to stop smoking so they live a vewy vewy healthy life…

  53. Rose Zane Sanders says:

    the end of the cigarette is very bad for you. but its actually wont do as much damage if you smoke the first half. instead of smoking the whole thing. (my aunt told me about this, i learn a lot from her)

  54. Christian says:

    Think about how your kids will feel if you die before you get to see them get married or have kids. It is one of the hardest things to quit but you can do it. Believe in yourself. My advice is to carry gum or mints to keep something in your mouth so you are not tempted to smoke. Trust me, it works.

  55. Anonymous says:

    i love them so good

  56. asdfghjkl says:

    well almost half of my hole family smokes and the only one that i know about that has cancer is my gram.

  57. nosmokinpeeeeeeeepppppssss says:

    no smokin’ peepleessss it be bad for chuuuuuuuuu >.<

  58. Hunter says:

    smoking is bad for u

  59. a.dub says:

    hey if u wanna smoke do it :) i quit but for its not that easy

  60. Ebbie =D says:

    Wow. That’s pretty nasty. I don’t applaud smoking at all.

  61. Courtney says:

    smoking is nasty. I mean why do people do this stuff anyway.

  62. yeyang says:

    i smooke 4 packs a day and im healthy i can run 3 miles in 1.2 seconds

    • Katie says:

      You may be healthy now, but just wait till you’re 35 and you have lung cancer and can’t breathe!

      • Barbara says:

        On October 3, thirty high scohol students from Mount Si’s Key Club visited the homes of two elderly folks in North Bend. Armed with gloves, garden tools, and determination ..they set out to offer assistance to these homeowners where the labor had simply become too big an obstacle. The students split and stacked firewood, trimmed overgrown bushes and hedges, brought garden beds back to objects of beauty, raked leaves, and filled an enormous trailer with discarded and rotting lumber that was taken to the dump. The best part of this endeavor was the smiles and hugs given by the homeowners to these high scohol Key Clubbers. That so many showed up at their homes to Pay it Forward was overwhelming and one of the most heart-warming experiences I have seen. Way to go Mount Si Key Club!

  63. Chickenman says:

    At least burnt chicken is better than raw chicken

  64. Anonymous says:

    That’s why a lot of people are dying these days!!!

  65. schoolwork says:

    who wrote this THE WEBSITE???

  66. schoolwork says:

    WHOOPS NOT the website the article? :/

  67. a guy says:

    Dang………..

  68. bryce says:

    smoking is the worst thing you could do

  69. Anonymous says:

    How do I get my mom to stop smoking

  70. joe is ahoe says:

    its funnn

  71. daphne says:

    pls poeple shouold stop smoking

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