According to a New York Times article published Monday, a federal judge blocked an attempt by the Food and Drug Administration to force tobacco companies to use graphic warning labels on their packaging. And while cigarettes are bad, we’re glad this first-amendment issue ended the way it did.
Looking around campus, smokers are everywhere. And if our little corner of the world is representative of a larger whole, it means there are only more out there. Call us crazy, but when we see someone inhaling hazardous chemicals into their lungs, they’re not usually being forced to do so.
People smoke out of habit, knowing full well the possible consequences to their health. Health effects are written right there on chesterfield in black and white, and that should be enough.
The FDA’s attempts to put staged photos of a corpse or a man breathing smoke out of a tracheotomy hole are just that –– staged, and therefore trying to influence public opinion. Frankly, that’s not the FDA’s job. As a government institution, they shouldn’t be stepping into an advocacy role, but instead should provide facts and figures.
That’s why we think Richard Leon, the judge who blocked the FDA’s attempts, did the right thing. Not only would the images be an encroachment on commercial free speech, but the new packaging would have been used to encourage smokers to quit from photographs that weren’t even technically real.
We’re big boys and girls, FDA. If someone wants to smoke a cigarette after a long day, that’s completely their prerogative. It’s between them and the surgeon general.