Court weighs graphic health warnings on cigarettes

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by FREDERIC J. FROMMER

Associated Press

Posted on April 10, 2012 at 12:14 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A federal appeals court is considering the constitutionality of requiring large graphic photos on cigarette packs to show that smoking can harm or kill smokers.

The three-judge panel Tuesday questioned whether the government's proposed warnings cross from factual information into anti-smoking advocacy. Tobacco companies suing to block the mandate argue it does. In February, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon agreed. He blocked the requirement, saying it ran afoul of the First Amendment's free speech protections.

At Tuesday's hearing, judges questioned how far the government could go, such as putting graphic warnings on cars that "speed kills."

The nine proposed graphic warnings include color images of a man exhaling cigarette smoke through a tracheotomy hole in his throat and a plume of cigarette smoke enveloping an infant receiving a mother's kiss.

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