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Business group weighs in on cigarette label suit

  Business  -   POSTED: 2012/01/31 12:10

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is weighing in on a lawsuit over graphic cigarette warning labels that include the sewn-up corpse of a smoker and a picture of diseased lungs, saying the federal government has no legitimate authority to take space on a tobacco company's packaging or advertising to persuade consumers not to buy the product.

The pro-business lobbying group filed a friend of the court brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington late Monday in the lawsuit brought by some of the largest U.S. tobacco companies, including R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Lorillard Tobacco Co., challenging the Food and Drug Administration's plan to require the new labels be placed on cigarette packs later this year.

A U.S. District Court judge in November blocked the labels while deciding whether they violate the companies' free speech rights, ruling that it is likely the cigarette makers would succeed in a lawsuit. The FDA has appealed that decision and oral arguments are set for April.

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