COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- Four of the five largest U.S. tobacco companies are suing the federal government over new graphic cigarette labels that include the sewn-up corpse of a smoker and a picture of diseased lungs.
R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Lorillard Tobacco Co., Commonwealth Brands Inc., Liggett Group LLC and Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company Inc., said they filed their suit against the Food and Drug Administration late Tuesday. All the companies are based in North Carolina except Sante Fe Natural Tobacco Company.
The companies say the warning labels violate their free speech rights by requiring them to carry a government-sponsored emotionally charged appeal to not use their legal products. They want the labels stopped.
FDA officials said they could not comment because of pending litigation. The agency said in June when it introduced the labels that they are powerful and frank warnings about the dangers of smoking.
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