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Two advertising groups on Friday joined some of the largest tobacco companies in America in opposing the new cigarette warning labels that consisted of various graphic images such as pictures of diseased lungs and the sewn-up corpse of a smoker.
According to the advertising groups, the labels infringed on commercial speech and if unchallenged, could lead to more government intrusion.
On Friday, the American Advertising Federation and the Association of National Advertisers filed briefs with the U.S. District Court in Washington D.C., in a lawsuit led by Lorillard Tobacco Co. and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.
The companies last month filed a case against the Food and Drug Administration to stop the implementation of the labels, saying that they are in violation of free speech laws, unfairly recommend to adults to reject their legal products and will cost millions of dollars to make.
A hearing on the preliminary injunction to block the labels, which is due to appear on cigarette packs next year, is scheduled for Sept. 21, with a decision expected to be handed down as soon as October.
In the briefs, the groups who represent various U.S. companies and several thousands of advertising professionals, said, “The new cigarette warnings are expressly designed to be propagandistic rather than informative. If the government can deputize tobacco companies through their product packaging and advertisements to deliver its message, there is no reason it could not do so for other things — and history shows it will not hesitate to do so.”
Last week the FDA, in opposition to the lawsuit, said that the free speech rights of tobacco companies are outweighed by the right of the general public to know about the dangers of smoking.