Tuesday, 14 January 2014

USA: Why American cigarette manufacturers are fighting the New Health Warnings.

Five American manufacturers: RJ Reynolds Tobacco that produces Camels and Winstons in the US, Lorillard Tobacco that makes Trues and Newports, the most popular cigarette among Afro-Americans, Commonwealth Brands, Liggett Group and Santa Fe Natural Tobacco, are actively opposing the obligation, scheduled to come into effect next year in September, to print on their cigarette packs shock pictures depicting the damage of smoking.

In June, the Food and Drug Administration, the government body that handles the regulation of food and pharmaceutical products, disclosed the pictures, among which a lifeless corpse, a disfigured mouth and a blackened lung. These will have to take up 50% of the front and rear faces of all the cigarette packs sold in the United States as well as 20% of the advertising messages.

The five tobacco companies have lunched a collective lawsuit, filed in the federal court of Washington against the FDA. The Government’s decision, besides being unconstitutional, would violate the principal of freedom of expression, imposing the spread of a message that obligates cigarette manufacturers to “depress, discourage and frighten” their consumers.

“The government can require the application of warnings that are straightforward and indisputable, but it cannot impose that a pack of cigarettes becomes a small noticeboard for anti-smoking campaigns, besides the fact that the regulations violate the First Amendment”, said, quoted by the BBC, Floyd Abrams of the legal office Cahill Gordon & Rekindle, attorney for the companies.

The other American cigarette makers, including Philip Morris, facing the dilemma of moving openly against this “politically correct” approach aimed at safeguarding the health of the citizens, have chosen to remain in the background in this awkward and unpleasant situation.

The nine pictures that  will have to cover 50% of American cigarette packs: