Judge issues good ruling against federal dictation on cigarette labels

Judge issues good ruling against federal dictation on cigarette labels

March 3rd, 2012 in Opinion Free Press

If the federal government wants to outlaw tobacco, then there is a legislative process by which it can attempt to do so.

But with tobacco being legal, the federal government clearly went beyond its authority by proposing that tobacco companies be required to place graphic, sickening warning labels on cigarette packages. The labels show things such as diseased lungs and the corpse of a smoker.

It is obvious that smoking causes a range of illnesses and in many cases premature death. Tobacco use should be vigorously discouraged among adults and forbidden to children.

But again, tobacco is a legal product. So the government had no business requiring tobacco companies to pay for gruesome warning labels that, in effect, urged smokers not to buy their products.

And while there should be absolutely no suggestion that smoking is a healthful activity, it is appropriate that a federal judge has blocked the cigarette warning label requirement from taking effect.

In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon wrote that the labels "were neither designed to protect the consumer from confusion or deception, nor to increase consumer awareness of smoking risks; rather, they were crafted to evoke a strong emotional response calculated to provoke the viewer to quit or never start smoking."

Discouraging smoking is a worthy goal, but government dictation of this sort is not the proper means to achieve that goal.