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Do Graphic Photos Block Big Tobacco's Free Speech?

Are you a product photographer? What if you shot images for a product - any product - and then the federal government dictated how most of your packaging should look?

How would you react?

And what if you were required to put graphic photographs of rotting teeth and bodies decaying from smoking-related diseases all over your packaging? Tobacco companies are saying that the lettered warning labels they were required to put on their cigarette packs were one thing, but the new photographs they'll need to add next year are going too far.

Their recourse? Reynolds American (RAI), Liggett Group, Lorillard (LO), and Commonwealth Brand have become plaintiffs suing the country's Food & Drug Administration for requiring these graphic notices.

The Requirement: "The 2009 Family Smoking prevention and Tobacco Control Act requires color warning covering the top half of the front and back panels of cigarette packages, and the top 20 percent of printed advertising."

Tobacco's Response: The tobacco companies' lawsuit cites an unconstitutional assault to their free speech under the First Amendment. They're being forced to join in and advertise for a campaign that they don't go along with. September 2012 would be the year that cigarette packaging and advertising becomes photographically nasty.

Your Response: What do you think? Do these photographs violate tobacco companies' free speech?


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