The Graphic Warning Labels That Big Tobacco Squelched

A judge ruled that these picture warnings violated tobacco companies' First Amendment rights.

Score one for Big Tobacco. The images seen here were due to be plastered all over cigarette boxes and advertisements as part of the Food and Drug Administration's new rules for cigarette warning labels. That was the plan until last week, when District Judge Richard Leon sided with tobacco companies in their suit against the FDA, saying that the warnings likely violate Big Tobacco's First Amendment rights. Photo warning labels like these are common in other countries, where there's considerable evidence that they are working. No wonder Big Tobacco fought back.

Lest we forget, tobacco is still the leading cause of preventable deaths in the country, responsible for 443,000 premature deaths and another 8.6 million cases of serious illness each year. Though smoking has declined massively since the Mad Men era, a full 1 in 5 adults continue to smoke and the rate of decline has stalled in recent years. These warnings were expected to jump-start that rate. They also were expected to have a significant impact lowering health care costs, currently at 17 percent of our GDP and not getting cheaper.

Also Read: Big Tobacco's Victory Press Conference (Saunders Cartoon)

All images courtesy of the FDA.