An appeals court says New York City cannot scare smokers by requiring grotesque images at stores that sell cigarettes.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday rejected a 2009 Board of Health resolution which required all tobacco retailers to display signs bearing graphic images showing the adverse health effects of smoking.
The city Health Department said the ruling is likely to reduce the number of smokers who quit. "The City's warning signs depicted the grisly toll of smoking and provided helpful information about how to quit at a place where smokers were most likely to see it, the department said in a statement. "Despite huge strides in combating smoking in New York City, tobacco remains the City’s number one killer and we remain committed to providing smokers with life-saving information and resources to overcome their addiction."
The court said the federal government gets to decide how to warn people about the dangers of cigarettes, upholding a ruling bu Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan. The appeals court found the city's resolution is preempted by the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act, enacted by Congress in 1965. It said letting local authorities require the posting of warnings near cigarette displays that are meant to supplement those already on boxes of cigarettes risks creating diverse, non-uniform and confusing regulations.
Philip Morris USA issued a statement saying it was pleased with the ruling.
"This suit has always been about who has the authority to regulate the content of cigarette warnings," said attorney Murray Garnick, who was quoted in a statement speaking on behalf of Philip Morris USA. "That is a power reserved to the federal government without interference or additional efforts by state and local authorities."
With the Associated Press