Fight over tobacco labels may go to Supreme Court.


Tom Garrett 4 years, 1 month ago

Here's your chance to make a judgment about how the Supreme Court will decide a case.

The background:

The FDA decided that it would be correct to require tobacco companies to put graphic warning labels on cigarette packs. In general, the "graphics" are things no one would like to see. Such as? Oh-h-h-h. Pictures of rotting teeth? A man exhaling smoke through a tracheotomy? Dead smokers?

The cigarette companies responded with a pair of lawsuits. The lawsuits started up the chain of courts on separate paths.

In one court the labels were ruled constitutional.

In another court they were labeled unconstitutional because they violated "the First Amendment by unconstitutionally compelling speech."

A three-judge appeals court panel has now said that the law is constitutional and does not violate freedom of speech because the government has a legitimate interest in ensuring that people are truthfully informed about the health hazards of smoking.

However, the fight is not over. Whether the nine warning images that the FDA has chosen will ever actually end up on cigarette packs is unclear. Lawyers for the tobacco companies point out that while the federal panel upheld the constitutionality of the graphic label requirement, it did not address the content of the images the FDA has selected.

The AP reports that Floyd Abrams, an attorney for Lorillard Tobacco, said the decision applies more broadly to whether the FDA has the right to impose certain marketing regulations on the tobacco industry, but does not specifically address the content of those requirements. For example, the appeals court ruled the FDA could force tobacco companies to put new graphic warning labels on cigarette packs, but does not rule on the specific images proposed by the FDA that another federal judge deemed unconstitutional in late February.

The issue could end up at the U.S. Supreme Court. So I ask you this:

If you were sitting on the U. S. Supreme Court would you decide that the federal government has the power to require any company to put graphic images of rotting teeth, equally rotting corpses, and other disgusting images on their commercial products?


Pat Randall 4 years, 1 month ago

There are warnings printed on sides of cigarette packs and also on the tear strip to open them. Do you really think pictures are going to make a difference? When is the govt going to make all the fast food places put up warnings and pictures about the food they serve? Fat, salt, old meat, soda pop loaded with sugar and caffine? Go on a tour thru a meat processing plant. Or a cannery. Check the caffine and sugar in the new power drinks. Very dangerous. Govt. and do gooders need to mind thier own business. They want to rule everyone about everything and it isn't any of thier business. They want to make rules for everyone from the time they are concieved untill they are buried. Maybe we should get rid of all the attorneys. (: Parents can't discipline thier children, or choose thier health care in some cases. But if the child does something wrong then the parent is responsible.


Tom Garrett 4 years, 1 month ago

"Govt. and do gooders need to mind thier own business."

That is the exact problem.

Freedom means FREEDOM! It does not mean living your life according to the beliefs of some other person. It does not mean living your life in an artificially created bubble of rules where nothing can harm you. Life is filled with risks, risks of every conceivable kind. Just walking downstairs in the morning is a risk to me, for example; more elderly are injured by falls than by anything else. Should the government be allowed, therefore, on clear-cut evidence that it would save lives, to forbid seniors to use the upstairs portion of their houses? No! It is not up to someone else which of those risks you decide are worth it. It is up to YOU!

I would very much like to see someone in New York City sue that butthead of a mayor because he is interfering with their right of free speech, a right they exercise by making choices about what they want to eat, which is nothing less than expressing their opinion about what they like. Think of what is going on over there. You walk into a restaurant, look at the menu, and have your choices limited, not by what you like nor by what you can afford, but by what some butthead thinks you ought to eat. They should take that dictatorial SOB, convict him of interference with the natural rights of humankind, and sentence him to life in prison on tofu and water.

What right is more "inalienable" than the choice of what you eat?

I sincerely believe that the Supreme Court would hear a case over the kind of laws he is passing and decide in favor of freedom and liberty. That would stop a lot of governmental interference.


Tom Garrett 4 years, 1 month ago

I got thinking about this last night and bumbled into a startling truth.

There is no doubt that there is tension in government. So it is; so it has always been; so it will always be.

But why? Isn't there a set of core beliefs which we all share? Don't we all share these beliefs?

Our nation is founded on the root beliefs of liberty and equality, free and fair elections, civil rights, free speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, and free trade.

We believe that we each share an inalienable right to life, liberty, and property. We believe that the best safeguard of our rights is a nation controlled not by men, but by law, by a set of laws gathered together in a Constitution which in its fundamentals shall never change, though we may at times have to puzzle over how those fundamentals should direct our actions as technology changes possibilities.

We absolutely reject the notions, common at the time of our War of Independence, of hereditary privilege, state religion, absolute monarchy, the divine right of kings, and absolutism of any kind in government. Nor will we either bow to new world orders such as Fascism, Nazism and Communism, or to old world orders such as oligarchy where the state is governed by an aristocracy, whether hereditary or based on wealth, and will we never accept anarchy and liberty to be one and the same.

In short, we reject tyrannical rule of any sort, along with any undue restriction of natural rights, and we ask from every citizen--ask, not demand--active thoughtful, and informed participation in government.

Do you find anything in those fundamental beliefs that you would throw out? Anything that you find to be out of date? Anything we no longer need? Anything that can be changed because we live in changed times?

How then can we at this point in our history be so torn apart?

I believe that, through the prodding of politicians intent on gaining power so they may accomplish things which are inimical to our root beliefs, we have come to think that we are divided into "liberals" and "conservatives." That is not true. The ideals you have just read are all liberal ideals, and the intention we all share of never changing them is the very essence of conservatism.

How then can we come together and become one people again, united in our fundamental beliefs and determined to live by them?


Tom Garrett 4 years, 1 month ago

Though a little hard to grasp at first, and puzzling when first stated, we can defeat those who would tyrannize us by asking a three part question of any legislation which is proposed to us: Is it liberal, AND is it conservative, AND are we willing to give up part of our rights? In other words, is it cast in regard to our fundamental beliefs, and will it in any way erode those beliefs. Asking just one third the question, while ignoring the other two thirds, will place our feet on the road to the end of democracy.

Consider the subject of this string in regard to that two part questions. All we have to do to decide whether or not the proposed rule requiring graphically negative materials on the packaging of a legally available product through the sale of which that company remains in business should be allowed to stand is ask three questions:

One: Is it liberal?

Does it interfere with free trade? Does it interfere with free speech?

Yes it does.

Two: Is it conservative?

If permitted to stand will it erode our fundamental beliefs?

Yes, it will erode two fundamental rights.

Three: Does the value of such graphic materials as a warning to those who may harm themselves by using the product warrant a decision to allow the erosion of the rights which we so strongly cherish?

That, you see, is the actual question. Not whether or not some "liberal" idea should be promoted, or some "conservative" one, but how much of our shared beliefs are we--as a United people--willing to give up?

And your answer is...?


Kim Chittick 4 years, 1 month ago


Too many of our fundamental beliefs are being subjugated by the nanny state and all of the do-gooders who think they have the right to tell others how to live their lives, because they and they alone know what is good for the rest of us.

I will be very honest and say that for me personally, anything that limits cigarettes and cigarette smoke in my world, makes me happy. I get blinding headaches when subjected to cigarette smoke in my immediate vicinity; and I get tired of seeing other's spent cigarette butts on the ground all over.

However, that being said, in order to make my life more comfortable, am I willing to have the Supreme Court issue this absurd ruling, thereby opening the door for other restrictions or requirements? Not on your life!! I even disagree with the warnings that tobacco companies are required to put on cigarette packs now. I don't believe that there is a person alive today who does not know that cigarette smoking is bad for our bodies, but we all make our own choices. And I fear for so many of our other liberties should the Supreme Court pass this ruling. What will be next? Pictures of obese people on Big Mac boxes? Limits on how many slices of pizza a person can legally consume?

Do I have the right to put limits or restrictions on something because I personally don't like it? Absolutely not!! (well, except in my own home!) I fear that the government and our judicial system are slowly working to erode too many of our fundamental rights.

You know the old, "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" is slowly but surely being limited and restricted to only those liberties and pursuits which some politician and/or judge has determined is acceptable and "good" for us.


Pat Randall 4 years, 1 month ago

Why don't they go for the jackpot and not allow tobacco products anywhere? Make it illegal to grow, sell, or import. Alcohol was outlawed at one time, and marijuana. See where we are with that now.


Tom Garrett 4 years, 1 month ago


Since you have already said everything I would have said, I'll just say that I agree with every word of it and let it go at that.


I know what you mean! The quickest way to get Americans riled up is to tread on their rights. And this isn't just treading on them, it's stomping all over them, and then rubbing it in by taxing people for doing something they have a perfect right to do.

This is one reason I would be in favor having only an income tax. No other kind of tax or charge of any kind. That way they couldn't kick people while they were down, which some politicians--and some people--seem to take pleasure in doing.


Tom Garrett 4 years, 1 month ago

I'm glad to be back on this subject.

As Kim points out, some very crafty and amoral people are using our own beliefs to restrict our freedom and liberty. They make it appear that things like life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are conservative beliefs when they are in fact liberal beliefs. You know what that means? That means that Barry Goldwater was a liberal! Consider that!

And those same people try to get us to believe that conservatives are a bunch of greedy, slobbering business executives when what conservatives really are are people who fight to keep the liberal beliefs on which this nation was founded, beliefs we better cling to like we would cling to a life preserver in a flood because this nation cannot survive without them.

When I say "same people" I don't mean that you could go to Washington and find men and women who both criticize liberals and conservatives. They're not that stupid. One group of crooks criticizes liberals, and the other group of crooks criticizes conservatives. But think how crafty that is: The whip us up into a froth so they can slide through the legislation THEY want. One group wants to control everything we do; and the other group wants to tax us into poverty as we pay for the laws that control us.

I say: A pox on both your houses! Bring me a party that both embraces our fundamental beliefs and demands that business and government be kept separate and you'll get me to join. Until then, I remain an Independent.

Here are three ways to convince me that your party is the right one:

a. Set the taxes for a small business owner making under half a million at a lower rate than that of some CEO gouging $143 million out of a corporation that belongs to the people who own its stock.

b. Repeal the laws that make it illegal to use drugs, that overtax alcohol, that tell parents how they can discipline their kids, and that require people to wear seat belts.

c. First see how much money we have to spend, and then create a budget to spent that much; and when you cut "fat" out of the budget, cut fat--as in a $512 billion schools budget--not lean, as in Social Security from which Congress stole the money we all paid in so the program would be fiscally sound.

And yes, folks, here's a direct quote to show you that Congress has, indeed, stolen the money we paid in: "The non-marketable securities [in the national debt] are mainly the 'government account series' owed to certain government trust funds such as the Social Security Trust Fund, which represented $2.7 trillion in 2011." So we paid it in, Congress stole it, and we are now having to pay taxes to cover the interest on what Congress stole from us, while Congress works on some conveniently crooked way to make us suffer because of what they did--such as cutting the benefits we receive.

That's like someone cleaning out your bank account, getting caught, having to make restitution, and charging you a fee so they can pay back what they stole.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 9 months ago


The FDA has abandoned the fight in this issue. The Solitor General says that it will not seek a Supreme Court review of the appeals court decision that the labels were unconstitutional.

The way I figure it, they knew they would lose and they didn't want it on the record.

Of course, those who would control us never give up. Right now, Dr. Howard Koh, assistant secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, is saying, “Although we pushed forcefully … (the) ruling against the warning labels won’t deter the FDA from seeking an effective and sound way to implement the law.”

And we should not forget that there was another case that went to another appeals court which ruled that other, similar marketing restrictions were constitutional. The tobacco companies have petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to review that case, so we still have to wait until that's over and done with.

I'll keep you posted.


Pat Randall 3 years, 9 months ago

Kim gets headaches when around cigarette smoke. So I would never think of smoking around her

I have the choice of smoking somewhere else. Well almost. It is getting harder to find anywhere smoking is allowed. Even in bars where people are so drunk they can't stay on thier stool. But they will leave, get in their car and get out on the highway. Is there something wrong with this picture?

I am the same way about perfume, shaving lotion, and cologne as Kim is about smoke. I have gone into restaurants, put in the back when smoking was allowed and be seated next to some one that smelled to high heaven with their choice of perfume or whatever. I never said nasty things to them like I have been talked to. I waited untill the server came back and ask quietly if there was somewhere else to sit. My nose would be running, my eyes watering and be coughing like crazy. Only takes about two breaths and I am ready to move.

The reason the govt. doesn't try to get rid of tobacco products totally is there is to many dollars in taxes they collect on them. I think the last raise a few years ago was 50 cents a pack. That was on top of what they were already collecting.

Back to your question, the pictures will not help. The warnings written on the packs didn't. I have a pack in front of me and the following is the warning on it.

SURGEON GENERAL'S WARNING Smoking causes lung cancer, heart disease, enphysema, and may complicate pregnancy.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 9 months ago

That's interesting, Pat. I thought I was the only one whose eyes blinked closed at the smell of some perfumes. Man! Do they getme! The odd part is that the ones that turn me into a basket case are the same ones that actually smell bad to me. That may be my fault, not theirs, but educate me, will you? Do those perfumes bother other people? I'm not asking about the allergenic effect; I'm asking about the smell, which to me is very unpleasant.

Mind you, I am NOT telling anyone what to wear. That's a personal choice and I'm hanged if I am going to either tread on someone's rights, or criticize anyone for what is obviously a matter of taste. I'm just curious if I'm the only nut on the planet that finds some perfumes to be very unpleasant.

The taxes on tobacco products are outrageous. They are morally wrong, and they should be legally wrong as well. Control of individual choice is NOT the American way. There should be one sales tax; the same on everything. The idea of placing punitive taxes on cigarettes, booze, jewelry, "luxury" cars, and so on is so anti-American I find it hard to believe we allow it.

Mind you, if insurance companies want to raise their rates for smokers that is their right. Insurance is a gamble. I gamble that I'll get sick, and the insurance company gambles that I won't; if they want to use data to set their rates, that's their right.

As to something in a restaurant annoying someone else, that ought to be left to the patron and the restaurant. Oddly enough, though I smoked 5 packs a day for many years, the smell of smoke bugs me now just as it does Kim, but I do not want laws to force people to do run their restaurants some special way, or to stop people from exercising their right to be human beings.

I imagine Kim feels the same way I do. In the first place people ought to think of others. But I have a mouth and legs; I can ask for another table, and walk there without the slightest trouble. I also think that restaurant owners who want to attract patrons should have the brains to put in a good ceiling exhaust system to eliminate the problem.

What may surprise you is that genuine scientific research on second hand smoke shows no medical danger to others other than allergenic effects. Go read the studies. There is no valid evidence that supports the current laws. They are based on gross speculation, speculation that has been proven to be totally false. Therefore, all the laws about where you can smoke are just exactly that--smoke, mirrors, and BS.

I have some advice for the Surgeon General: Warning! Screwing around with the rights of Americans is dangerous to the health, welfare, and employment opportunities of public servants who forget who they are working for.

Hey! You know something? We ought to print that on the plates in every pubic and private restaurant in Washington.

I'll bet it would work better than the crap on the cigarette packs.

You'll enjoy the second part of this post.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 9 months ago

By the way, I gave up smoking cold in 1965 when I found out that if you smoke five packs a day you can actually have a problem with nicotine poisoning. It affected my heart, which is as sound today as it was then--no problems at all.

I wasn't up to date at the time. Hadn't read Albert Schweitzer's 1922 book, "On the Edge of the Primitive Forest," in which he says: "That I should have to treat chronic nicotine poisoning out here I should never have believed at first. I could not tell what to think of acute constipation... nervous disturbances [and more] ... but while treating a black government official ... I asked, 'How many pipes ... do you smoke a day?' and I recognized what mischief tobacco produces here. It was among the women that cases of nicotine poisoning were most frequent." He adds that they smoked pipe after pipe at night to drug themselves into sleep because of insomnia.

I'm still catching up on my reading. No chance I'll ever get it all done. :-)


Pat Randall 3 years, 9 months ago

Tom, You could put the same perfume out of the same bottle on five different people and it would smell different on everyone of them.

No one that likes to read will ever get caught up on thier reading no matter how long they live.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 9 months ago

You should have seen me back in 1965 before I quit smoking. I swear, one day Lolly and I were driving home from the commissary and my heart was doing a conga dance--and it hurt! I went to the Air Force hospital, they took an EKG, and the doc looked at me with a VERY sober expression and shook his head. "Well," he said, sounding as though there wasn't much use in bothering, "we may as well get some basic data down on paper."

One of the first things he asked me was if I smoked. When I told him I smoked four or five packs a day he put down his pencil and said, "Well, before we can do anything we have to cut down on that."

He told me that that much nicotine could have a direct effect on the body and said that I'd have to cut back before we could even gather some baseline data. He made an appointment for me a month in the future. Well, I knew that cigarettes would kill me some day**, but I hadn't ever considered the possibility that before that happened they would screw up my daily life, so I just quit. Oddly enough, it wasn't hard at all. I'd done it once before in 1961 when Lolly was pregant and cigarette smoke made her nauseous. One day after David was about two months old I came home and there was Lolly smoking an old Pall Mall.

"I thought you quit smoking?"

"Well, not forever."

So I started up again.

A month later i came back to the hospital. Same doctor. Gave me another EKG and came back out of the room where he'd been reading it. "Gee, sarge. I'm sorry. I got you mixed up with someone who has a bad heart."

"Yeah, that's me."

"Uh-uh. There's nothing wrong with your heart. It's as good as they come. What did you do?"

"I quit smoking."

End of story--it is now 48 years later. Still no problems.

Lolly quit entirely on her own in 1967, not long before we went to England. She just felt like doing it.

As for that perfume. Right! Whatever the brand is it always smells like someone just dumped a quart bottle on her head. Maybe that's the problem. Too much of a good thing.

**As to cigarettes "killing me some day," I had yet to realize what a selfish viewpoint that was. We don't own ourselves. We have an obligation to those who love us to be here for them. I was too young then to know that (33).


Dan Haapala 3 years, 9 months ago

I probably shouldn't post without having read this thread more closely but when skimming the highlights I found a common thread that concerns me. A recent case is going up before the courts that wants to prohibit graphic pictures of children in the womb before an abortion occurs. The reasoning is that children may find the photos disturbing. Don't you find a problem with any picture that tries to persuade anyone to a political belief.

We have lost track of the message. We are supposed to be free. Freedom means we as individuals have a responsiblity to our fellow individuals not to restrict their freedom. Laws are to be made that protect us from the lawless. And the lawless must be pursued and dealt with so as not to be a threat any longer. If you want to put a picture of a cancer sufferer in an advertisment do it. Don't make the cigarette providers do it. If you don't want cigarettes make them illegal, If you can't make them illegal. Go home to bed and cry yourself to sleep it's not about you. If you want the freedom of choice, as long as that choice is to kill the baby you created in your womb from your activity than live with that but you don't have the right to stop anyone from saying it's wrong and proving it with pictures of life before birth. This isn't about Religion, this is about dignity. This is about self worth. This is about living up to a higher standard of life and not falling into the gutter of personal immature satisfaction and filth.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 9 months ago

"We have lost track of the message. We are supposed to be free. Freedom means we as individuals have a responsibility to our fellow individuals not to restrict their freedom."

Dan, I've never seen it said better. If we could just find a way to get people to understand that!

Why do some people feel they have a right to interfere in what others do with their own lives? Why don't they understand? If you interfere with what others do, you open the door for others to interfere with what you do.

It is SO easy to see where to draw the line. Here it is--in a picture no less:

What harms me|What harms you

See the line? If it only harms me, it's my life; leave me alone.

If it harms you, then it's your life; I can't do it.

That doesn't mean that we don't have a moral obligation to try to help people. It just means we have no legal authority to do it.

Is that so hard to understand?

I've said this before, but I think the root problem with our government, and maybe with the whole world, is winner-take-all elections. The idea of a republic is to have someone in the legislature to represent each of us. With a winner-take-all election only the people in each district whose party won are represented; the rest are not. This allows the majority in the legislature to swing back and forth between extremes.

The solution?

Our nation has three groups of people: Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. In each district, let each group vote for and elect the man or woman who best represents that group. That could triple the number of representatives, so make districts larger to keep the same number the same. Give each representative a vote equal to the percentage of people he represents.

For senators, have three for each state, each elected at large by his party.

For president, elect three men, each the best in his party. The one with the most votes serves as President. The one with the next most is the Senate leader. The third is the leader of the House. There would be no change in presidential powers except for the veto of bills, which would require two out of the three to agree to either pass or veto a bill.

What would happen?

a. All points of view would be represented all the time.

b. No temporary majorities to push through control-the-people bills.

c. No need for huge campaign funds, reducing monied influence.

d. No need for the vote peddling we have now (such as allowing illegals to break the law to get votes). Since each candidate for his party's vote would be targeting the ideals of his or her party, not dirty little secrets, so there would no longer any need to peddle votes.

e. A true discussion of viewpoints in Washington. Laws which are agreed upon, not because they win votes, but because they work for the benefit of all.

In other words, a true republic.


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