The District Court for the District of Columbia released their decision in the closely watched cigarette warning label case, ruling that the the new labels would likely be found to be unconstitutionally compelled speech. Written by District Judge Richard Leon the opinion provided injunctive relief to the five tobacco manufacturers and found that the compelled speech (the content of the warnings) did not fall under the narrow exceptions that allow the government to require certain disclosures to protect consumers from deception. Under the lesser standard, the government can compel disclosure of purely factual and uncontroversial information, however in this case the court found that the labeling requirements were designed to evoke emotion, and their cartoon or digitally enhanced images were clearly not “purely factual” in their depiction. Furthermore, the size and display requirements for the warnings are not narrowly tailored to achieve the purpose of the labels.
Based on these findings, the court found is was likely the manufacturers were substantially likely to win their legal challenge on the merits of their arguments (that the labels were unconstitutional) and the liklihoood of irreparable harm without an injunction was high and granted the manufacturers injunctive relief.
R.J Reynolds Tobacco Co et al v. U.S. Food and Drug Administration et al, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, No. 11-cv-1482