Judge overturns two provisions in FDA tobacco law

WASHINGTON A federal judge found that two provisions in a law gives the FDA regulatory control over tobacco unconstitutional.

The overturned stipulations included the ban of colorful cigarette ads and the prevention of tobacco companies from stating that their products are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.

Tobacco companies — including R.J. Reynolds, maker of Joe Camel cigarettes and known for their eye-catching advertisements — argued that the conditions violate the companies' right to free speech and expression.

Public health advocates fear that by permitting tobacco companies to claim their products are regulated by the FDA, the general public may view the products as safe, despite the warning labels they carry.

While supporters of the law were pleased with overall decision, namely, the American Heart Association, the federal judge's decision to overturn such provisions could be harmful to the general population, the organization claimed.

"We strongly believe the two provisions that were struck down are essential to preventing tobacco use among children and educating consumers about the health hazards associated with smoking. Slick graphics, colors, and false claims of product safety will not disguise the fact that tobacco is a danger to smokers and nonsmokers alike," said AHA CEO Nancy Brown, M.D.