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Graphic Tobacco Warnings Rule Constitutional, Say Groups, States

July 20, 2020, 5:18 PM

A federal requirement that cigarette packages bear large, graphic warnings doesn’t violate the First Amendment, two advocacy groups and a coalition of states argue in briefs opposing R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and other companies’ challenge to the rule.

The Food and Drug Administration finalized the rule in March. The companies allege the mandated text and images are “designed to frighten, shock, and disgust” consumers and amount to anti-smoking advocacy. The rule would improperly compel their speech, they say.

But a lenient constitutional test for commercial speech applies, 24 states and the District of Columbia told the U.S. District Court for ...