The Supreme Court has declined to hear the tobacco industry’s appeal of a March 2012 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. The appeal was an industry attempt to avoid complying with the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. In that Federal law, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was given the authority to add large graphic warning labels to cigarette packages.
“The graphic warning labels are incredibly important in decreasing the number of individuals who use tobacco, especially our youth” says Oklahoma County Tobacco Use Prevention Coalition member Jennifer Damron. “They are factual. Tobacco companies know that tobacco kills 1-in-3 people who use cigarettes as intended, and they continue to want to hide it.”
The Supreme Court’s decision also enables the FDA to move forward with a number of key provisions of the Act previously upheld by the Sixth Circuit Court. Among those provisions of the 2009 law, the Act prohibited tobacco companies from making health claims about tobacco products without FDA review; banned several forms of tobacco marketing that appeal to children, including brand name sponsorships, tobacco-branded merchandise such as caps and T-shirts, and free samples of tobacco products; and prohibited tobacco companies from making statements implying that a tobacco product is safer because it is regulated by the FDA.
More than 60 countries around the globe have enhanced labels to warn consumers of the harmful effects of tobacco. With the provisions of the Tobacco Control Act, the FDA has additional tools to help improve the health of Americans and Oklahomans. Oklahoma’s overall health ranking is 43rd, an improvement from 46th, according to the 2012 United Health Foundation rankings. Although overall health rankings have improved, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports Oklahoma ranks 47th in the United States for smoking prevalence.
“The authority the FDA has to inform the public about tobacco is now unquestioned. These warnings will save lives and clearly communicate the dangers of tobacco products.” says Damron. “It is time to say to tobacco companies – No more hiding. No more lying. No more deceptive marketing to our kids.”