FDA Strikes Again In Graphic Warning Label Battle

The agency has requested a hearing before all eight judges on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is fighting back after a three judge panel with the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, on Aug. 24, barred the FDA’s implementation of graphic cigarette warnings, the National Association of Tobacco Outlets (NATO) reported.

FDA filed a petition, on Oct. 9, with the same appeals court requesting a rehearing “en banc.”  An “en banc” hearing is a hearing before all eight judges that serve on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.  The U.S. Circuit Court judges have the discretion to decide whether or not to grant a request for an en banc hearing.

In its rehearing petition, the FDA argues that the graphic health warning images have a primary goal of communicating the negative health consequences of smoking and that the federal government has an interest in effectively conveying this kind of health information.

In the District of Columbia appeals court decision issued on Aug. 24 that struck down the graphic image requirement, the Court found instead that the FDA’s expressly stated goal in adopting the graphic cigarette warnings was to reduce “the number of Americans, particularly children and adolescents, who use cigarettes and other tobacco products.”  Given this stated goal, the District of Columbia circuit court judges went on to find that the FDA did not produce any evidence to show that the cigarette graphic health warnings would directly cause a reduction in smoking rates, NATO reported.

As a part of the graphic warning labels, the FDA had also proposed including a “1-800-QUIT-NOW” toll-free smoking cessation help hotline, which the Aug. 24 decision also struck down. The FDA is not asking the full District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals to rehear arguments on this part of the cigarette health warnings.




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