Judge halts requirement to put "dangers of smoking" images on cigarette boxes

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Story Updated: Mar 1, 2012

A judge has put a stop to a federal requirement that would have forced tobacco companies to print large graphic images that depict the dangers of smoking on all cigarette boxes.

Some of the pictures show smoke coming out of a man's neck, images of mouth cancer and corpses.

Many members of the American Cancer Society are disappointed with the ruling, as they were for the labels.

"Having these large warning labels would be a huge advantage, not only to people trying to quit by continually reminding them of why they should quit, but also making it a little more easy for teens to notice it and see what they're doing as well," says American Cancer Society Director of Special Events Robert Elinskas.

Elinskas says he feels the graphic labels would de-glamorize cigarette packaging and decrease their appeal to buyers and that an update to the labels is far overdue.

"They're very small," Elinskas said. "They haven't been updated in decades, and I think people are so used to them, they're hardly noticed anymore."

The judge said the images violate the free speech amendment to the Constitution. However, Elinskas feels the warning labels aren't necessarily about free speech, but rather public health.

"They're marketing a product that damages lives, kills people," says Elinskas. "I don't necessarily think that having a warning label on their package to explain the fact that it's the only product that if used correctly will kill you, is out of the question."

However, as a manager of a Smoker's Choice store, Joyce Lacelle doesn't think the labels would have deterred smokers.

"I think they'll still buy them," says Lacelle. "If they want to smoke, they're gonna smoke."

The major tobacco companies complained that the images forced them to display government anti-smoking material more than their own branding.

The images were supposed to appear on cigarette boxes later this year.

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YouBetchaBottomDollah said on Thursday, Mar 1 at 7:21 PM

Smokers know cigarettes will shorten their life-span. Alcoholics know alcohol abuse can kill them. Drug addicts of every variety already know the facts. Facts don't make addicts quit...unfortunate, but true.

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Teri said on Friday, Mar 2 at 10:30 AM

Leave the "shocking" pics and warnings ON the packs. Why not, if it will convince a few current smokers to quit. Or, more importantly, if it will discourage a few future smokers from trying it. It's cold reality. Deal with it.

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