05:38am Thursday 24 October 2019

U.S. Policy on Graphic Cigarette Warnings is Costly Setback to Public Health

In an article published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine, author Dr. Ronald Bayer, Mailman School of Public Health professor of Sociomedical Sciences, writes that strong proponents of the FDA’s proposal, including the American Lung Association and the American Public Health Association, disagreed with the decision — saying it was a victory for Big Tobacco — and called on the government to appeal to the Supreme Court. Yet seven months later, the Department of Justice announced that the government would not appeal that decision. And the same groups who denounced the decision in 2012, remain largely silent.

So what exactly happened between August and March that changed the direction of the U.S. Government’s case against the tobacco industry?  Some attorneys and anti-tobacco advocates see the move as strategic, others think the FDA may not have had enough evidence to present a compelling argument for appeal.  Almost no one was willing to call this a defeat for public health.

In the article “The FDA and Graphic Cigarette Pack Warnings – Thwarted by the Courts,” Dr. Bayer and co-authors Dr. James Colgrove and doctoral student David Johns, offer their views on the ruling — noting the time lost as regulators move to craft “court-acceptable” images that effectively deter people from smoking and calling it a costly setback for public health.

Read the Perspective in NEJM


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Stephanie Berger

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