(WASHINGTON) -- A federal judge's ruling on graphic photos that were to be displayed on cigarette packs delivered a punch that the Food and Drug Administration didn't see coming.
Siding with five tobacco companies, U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon issued a preliminary injunction that stops the government from putting enhanced warnings on cigarette packages, cartons and advertisements that some have found repulsive. The photos of diseased lungs, a disfigured lip and a man smoking from a hole in his throat, among others, were supposed to appear next June.
Lawyers for the cigarette makers successfully argued that a court must first decide if the FDA's new rules violate their constitutional right to free speech before the graphic pictures can find their way onto their products.
Meanwhile, Matthew L. Myers of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids said in a statement, "Judge Leon’s ruling ignores the overwhelming scientific evidence about the need for the new cigarette warnings and their effectiveness."
The FDA said it would turn the case over to the Justice Department, which could appeal Leon's ruling.
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