I was recently interviewed on the Voice of Russia international radio network to discuss the free speech challenge to the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, Public Law 111-31, that is currently before the Sixth Circuit. As I reported last month, the Sixth Circuit recently heard oral argument on the constitutionality of the Act, which gives the Food and Drug Administration the power to regulate tobacco advertising and marketing. See Discount Tobacco City & Lottery v. United States (6th Cir., Case Nos. 10-5234 & 5235).
The plaintiffs challenging the Act include R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. (maker of Camel cigarettes) and Lorillard, Inc. (which sells Newport menthols). They argue that several provisions of the Tobacco Control Act violate their First Amendment rights to free speech, including the requirement of new color warnings which graphically depict the negative health consequences of smoking. Beginning in Fall 2012, these new warnings must occupy the top half of the front and back of all cigarette packages, and must occupy 20% of all cigarette and smokeless tobacco advertising. The warnings, which were formally unveiled by the FDA on June 21, 2011, include graphic images of, among other things, a dead man’s body with staples lining his chest, decaying teeth, and a man breathing through a hole in his neck.
Below is a link to my interview on the “Legally Speaking” program hosted by Carmen Russell-Sluchansky on the Voice of Russia network, which broadcasts in such international cities as Washington, D.C., New York, London, and Moscow. The video contains images of the various tobacco ads and products that are under attack by the new law.