Cigarette Makers Sue FDA for a New Packaging Regulation

September 21, 2011

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. graphic (adj.) [graf-ik] – giving a clear and realistic description (e.g., use of pictures)
Example: The outstanding presentation included some graphic data of the company’s growth.

2. grotesque (adj.) [groh-tesk] – very unpleasant or ugly in appearance
Example: The biologists discovered new grotesque-looking insects.
3. deter (v.) [dih-tur] – to discourage, prevent, or stop (someone or something) from doing an action
Example: The economic problem deters some companies from hiring new employees.

4. turn-off (n.) [turn-awf, of] – a person or thing that causes dislike or distaste
Example: The movie was a turn-off; it had a boring story and uninteresting characters.

5. infringe (v.) [in-frinj] – to violate or disobey (especially a law)
Example: Plagiarism is illegal because it infringes copyright law.

Read the text below.
Tobacco companies have filed a lawsuit against the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) over a new regulation that requires them to print graphic health warnings on cigarette packets.

Under this new regulation, cigarette companies must put grotesque images on their product labels as a form of health warning. Some of these images include dead people, diseased lungs and rotten teeth.

According to Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the new labels could deter young people from starting to smoke and might be a turn-off to adult smokers. The regulation would also reduce the estimated 443,000 annual deaths in US due to tobacco use.

However, five cigarette companies think this regulation disadvantages them. According to the companies’ representative, Floyd Abrams, using grotesque labels would scare away the consumers from buying their products. He also argued against the government illegally forcing them to use their product packaging as a tool for anti-smoking campaigns. Doing so infringes the companies' rights to free speech, the lawyer added.  Instead of the images, he suggested that the government could have just required them to use straightforward warnings in plain text.

The FDA has responded by saying there is no sure way of knowing if these images will stop people from buying cigarettes. They also added that the government can regulate someone’s speech if it is what is best for the public. As the lawsuit is being settled, cigarette companies are still expected to push through with the new health warnings starting September 2012.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

·         What other regulations do you think can be made to discourage smokers?
·         Why do you think some people still smoke despite some regulations?

Discussion B

·         Do you think the government should interfere in the marketing strategies of company products? Explain your answer.
·         What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of companies in seeking approval for their product packaging?

September 21, 2011