Court rejects cigarette labeling case

April 22, 2013 at 11:38 AM

WASHINGTON, April 22 (UPI) -- The U.S. Supreme Court Monday refused to review a lower court ruling allowing graphic warnings on cigarette packages.

Major tobacco companies had challenged a 2009 federal law and requirements by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to put the sometimes gruesome visual warnings on cigarettes, taking up much of the surface of a pack. The companies said the regulations interfered with their free-speech rights to communicate with customers.

A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which has headquarters in Cincinnati, ruled last year for the government.

"There can be no doubt that the government has a significant interest in preventing juvenile smoking and in warning the general public about the harms associated with the use of tobacco products," the panel ruled narrowly, consumerist.com reported.

The companies asked the Supreme Court for review, which was denied in a one-sentence order.

However, the appeals court ruling came shortly after one by a federal judge in Washington, who ruled for the tobacco companies in a separate case.

The Wall Street Journal reported the appeals court said its ruling only involves the constitutionality of the law and the authority of the FDA, not the specific images.

The Journal said it is likely that the labels cases only will be resolved in the Supreme Court.

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