Conflict On FDA Tobacco Rules?
I posted back in November about a federal court in Washington D.C. declaring unconstitutional the Food and Drug Administration’s rules requiring cigarette packages to display graphic images demonstrating the consequences of smoking. The D.C. court felt that while the government could compel the display of truthful information as to the risks of smoking, the First Amendment would not tolerate a regulation requiring cigarette manufacturers to scare users. But this week, the Court of Appeals for the United States Sixth Appellate Circuit, sitting in Cincinnati, ruled that the regulations do not violate the First Amendment. That ruling may or may not conflict with the D.C. court’s ruling. On its face, it sure looks like it does. But the 6th Circuit court, unlike the D.C. court, was ruling only on the regulation itself, without regard to the actual mandated graphics. As one of the tobacco lawyers put it, the 6th Circuit court was looking at the regulations in a vacuum, and not at the actual implementation. I suspect the Supreme Court will look at this issue at some point. The stakes are too high, and it makes no sense to have different circuits coming to different conclusions on a product that is sold throughout the country.