(CBS/AP) Will graphic warning labels for cigarettes go up in smoke? A judge is blocking a federal requirement that would have forced tobacco companies next year to put the images on their cigarette packages to show the dangers of smoking.
U.S. District Judge Richard Leon ruled Monday that it's likely the cigarette makers will succeed in a lawsuit claiming the images violate constitutional free speech protections. He is stopping the requirement until the lawsuit is resolved, which could take years.
The FDA planned to require the images, which include a dead smoker on an autopy stable with surgical stitches in his chest; a pair of healthy lungs next to the diseased lungs of a smoker; a smoker's stained teeth and a lip.
The larger, more prominent labels would mark the first change in cigarette warnings in more than 25 years, according to the FDA. They are intended to increase public awareness of specific health risks associated with smoking, including addiction, cancer, stroke, heart disease, and death. In addition, they're intended to encourage smokers to quit and to empower young people to say no to tobacco.