Tobacco firms sue FDA over new graphic warnings

If the government can require cigarette packs to sport gruesome illustrations of diseased lungs and dead people as part of an anti-smoking campaign, then why shouldn't abortion clinics be required to display posters of mangled and dead fetuses.

The Associated Press reports:

Four of the five largest U.S. tobacco companies sued the federal government Tuesday over new graphic cigarette labels that include the sewn-up corpse of a smoker and a picture of diseased lungs, saying the warnings violate their free speech rights and will cost millions of dollars to print.

The companies, led by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco and Lorillard Tobacco, said the warnings no longer simply convey facts to allow people to make a decision whether to smoke. They instead force them to put government anti-smoking advocacy more prominently on their packs than their own brands, the companies say. They want a judge to stop the labels.

"Never before in the United States have producers of a lawful product been required to use their own packaging and advertising to convey an emotionally-charged government message urging adult consumers to shun their products," the companies wrote in the lawsuit filed in federal court in Washington, D.C.

Of course, I'm being facetious about abortion clinic posters, but you get the point. There is a continuing controversy over whether pro-life groups should be allowed to display in public places actual photos of aborted fetuses--torn from limb to limb or horribly burned, depending on the method of abortion. Oh no, pro-abortion folks say, that's just much too gory. People shouldn't have to look at those. Even though it's the reality of abortion, as it affects the unborn. It's good to see the anti-smoking lobby is on the same side as pro-lifers.

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    Chicago Tribune contributing op-ed columnist and author of forthcoming historical novel, "Madness: The War of 1812." Reporter, editor and columnist for Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Daily News. Freelance writer and editor.

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