The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected a challenge by the tobacco industry to a federal law requiring that cigarette packages carry graphic warning labels, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Tobacco companies argued parts of the law violated their constitutional rights to free speech. The labels include graphic images of the consequences of smoking, including diseased lungs and rotting teeth. The cigarette labels are a result of the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which gave the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority to regulate the content, marketing and sale of tobacco products. The law also banned marketing practices including cigarette sponsorships of sporting or cultural events, the article notes.
In March 2012, a federal appeals court upheld most of the law. The Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with a lower court decision that the FDA has the authority to regulate tobacco, and the cigarette warning labels do not violate tobacco companies’ free speech rights. On Monday, the Supreme Court let that ruling stand, and denied the tobacco industry appeal.
It could take years for the new warning labels to appear on cigarette packages, according to the newspaper.