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Anti-smoking Campaign Under Attack by Tobacco Companies


New York City’s nothing-left-to-the-imagination ant-smoking campaign is under attack by the nation’s three big tobacco companies. The three tobacco companies (Philip Morris, Lorillard and R. J. Reynolds) have filed a federal lawsuit against the city in an effort to remove the graphic posters.

Almost a year ago New York City adopted the aggressive anti-smoking campaign dubbed the nothing-left-to-the-imagination campaign. The signs showing the health effects of smoking began showing up in shops last December.

Massachusetts followed suit in May of this year with a similar anti-smoking campaign modeled on NYC’s, but have not implemented theirs as the proposed campaign still needed the approval by the Public Health Council which will meet in August.

Both anti-smoking campaigns force retailers to prominently display graphic warnings about the perils of smoking, placing the graphic posters next to the tobacco sales racks and cash registers where they can’t be missed.

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Now it appears the Massachusetts anti-smoking poster campaign may be placed on hold, awaiting the outcome of the suit against NYC’s campaign.

The graphic posters contain images of ominously darkened lungs, damaged brains, and diseased teeth to show the dangers of tobacco use. Retailers are required to post them within three inches of cash registers or in each place where tobacco products are displayed.

The suit, filed on Wednesday by the tobacco companies and the New York State Association of Convenience Stores and retailers in United States District Court in Manhattan, contends that the placard rule infringes on the federal government’s authority to regulate cigarette advertising and warnings and violates the First Amendment rights of store owners who disagree with their message. The suit, also, contends the placards are so disgusting that they hurt business by discouraging people from buying not only cigarettes but also more-wholesome merchandise like milk and sandwiches.

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New York Times