UPDATE: Advertising Groups Join Graphic Cigarette Label Opposition

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Two advertising industry groups are joining some of the nation's largest tobacco companies in opposing new graphic cigarette warning labels that include the sewn-up corpse of a smoker.

The groups say the labels infringe on commercial speech and could lead to further government intrusion if unchallenged.

The Association of National Advertisers and the American Advertising Federation on Friday filed briefs with the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., in a lawsuit led by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Lorillard Tobacco Co.

The companies last month sued the Food and Drug Administration to block the labels.

A hearing on a preliminary injunction to stop the labels is set for Sept. 21. A decision could come as soon as October.

The labels are set to appear on packs next year.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- The Food and Drug Administration says a federal judge shouldn't stop new cigarette warning labels that include the sewn-up corpse of a smoker and a picture of diseased lungs.

The labels are being mandated by the FDA as part of its new authority to regulate tobacco. They are to appear on cigarette packs next year.

The agency was responding Friday to a lawsuit filed by some of the nation's largest tobacco companies. The companies, led by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Lorillard Tobacco Co., claim the labels violate their free speech rights and will cost millions of dollars to print.

But the FDA says the public interest in conveying smoking's dangers outweighs those claims.

The companies have a week to respond. A hearing in the case is set Sept. 21.

The Food and Drug administration is set to release nine new graphic health warning labels for U.S. Cigarette packs Tuesday, representing the most significant change to cigarette packs in more than 25 years.

The new labels will take up half of a pack of cigarettes and also will appear on advertisements. Cigarette makers have until the fall of 2012 to comply. Mandates for new warning labels were part of a 2009 law giving the FDA authority to regulate tobacco.

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