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Ruling Against New Cigarette Warning Labels Bad for Public Health, Allows Business As Usual for Big Tobacco

Statement by Christopher W. Hansen, President, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN)

February 29, 2012

WASHINGTON, D.C. – February 29, 2012 – “Today’s ruling by a federal judge blocking the implementation of new graphic cigarette warning labels is bad for public health. The ruling in a lawsuit the tobacco industry filed against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia is a victory for Big Tobacco in its effort to delay the implementation of the new graphic warning labels.

“For decades, the tobacco industry has grown increasingly aggressive in preying upon the American public with misleading and fraudulent marketing practices, while the warning labels have not been changed in 25 years. Larger, graphic warning labels have the potential to encourage adults to quit smoking cigarettes and deter children from starting in the first place. Today’s ruling ignores the overwhelming, decades-long need for strong cigarette warning labels and allows Big Tobacco to proceed ’business as usual,’ continuing to promote its highly addictive and deadly products.

“The new graphic warning labels, which would cover 50 percent of the front and back of cigarette packs starting in September 2012, are a common sense bipartisan provision in the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, historic public health legislation signed into law in 2009 which grants the FDA the authority to regulate the manufacture, sale and marketing of tobacco products. We encourage the Department of Justice to appeal this ruling, as they did on Judge Leon’s previous injunction.”

The new warning labels, released in June 2011, feature photos and drawings which depict the consequences of smoking and text, such as “Cigarettes Cause Cancer,” warning of the danger that comes with smoking. They can be viewed on www.acscan.org/protectkids. All new warning labels will also include the toll-free phone number 1-800-Quit-Now, which will connect callers with cessation programs in their state.

A similar lawsuit was filed in 2010 and the FDA’s general authority to require graphic warning labels was upheld by a judge in the U.S. District Court in Kentucky. ACS CAN has filed Amicus briefs in both these cases.

ACS CAN, the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, supports evidence-based policy and legislative solutions designed to eliminate cancer as a major health problem. ACS CAN works to encourage elected officials and candidates to make cancer a top national priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer with the training and tools they need to make their voices heard. For more information, visit www.acscan.org.

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FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Christina Saull or Steve Weiss
American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
Phone: (202) 585-3250 or (202) 661-5771
Email: Christina.Saull@cancer.org or Steve.Weiss@cancer.org

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Phone: (202) 661-5711
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