RICHMOND, Va. – Rhode Island joined several states and U.S. territories in filing a friend-of-the-court brief in a lawsuit over proposed graphic cigarette warning labels, according to The Associated Press.
The warnings would include a sewn-up corpse of a smoker and a picture of diseased lungs. The brief says the federal government should be allowed to require the labels for the “lethal and addictive” products.
Twenty-four attorneys general filed the court brief last month in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington in support of the Food and Drug Administration’s challenge of a lower court ruling in the case.
In November, a U.S. District Court judge granted a request by some of the nation’s largest tobacco companies to block the labels while deciding whether the labels violate their free-speech rights. The judge said it is likely the cigarette makers would succeed in a lawsuit to block the requirement that the labels be placed on cigarette packs next year.
The tobacco companies have questioned the constitutionality of the labels. If forced to include the warnings, cigarette makers say they would have to display government anti-smoking advocacy more prominent than their own branding. •