17 Aug 2011

US cigarette companies sue over graphic labels

5:37 pm on 17 August 2011

Four major cigarette companies are suing American authorities over a new rule which would force them to put new graphic health warnings on their products.

The US Food and Drug Administration says that from late next year, tobacco products must carry images to help persuade smokers to quit.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court, the tobacco companies argued that the new regulations violate their rights to free speech, the BBC reports.

They say the requirements prevent them from exercising their commercial rights, allowing a cigarette packet to become a mini billboard for the government's anti-smoking campaign.

Among the images are pictures of a corpse and a set of decayed teeth, clearly designed to deter the public from smoking.

Lawyers for the companies are hoping that the new rules will be declared unconstitutional.

But they have been welcomed by the administration, as well as anti-smoking campaigners.