Philip Morris USA Inc. filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on May 6 in Washington over the new rules requiring that tobacco companies put large and disturbing warning images on cigarette packs by 2021.
Altria Group Inc.'s subsidiary contested that the new rules imposed by the regulatory body violate First Amendment free speech rights.
Under the rule issued March 17, the tobacco companies are required to feature warning text statements with images depicting some serious health hazards of smoking, including images of premature babies and bloody organs, beginning June 18, 2021.
The company said the proposed labels will cover half of the cigarette packs, which is "an unprecedented amount of premium real estate."
"Plaintiffs know of no other government-mandated disclosure regime that has ever attempted to seize so much speech, let alone to seize the most prominent and visible locations on packaging and advertising for the government's messages," the complaint reads.
The tobacco industry took the courts in 2011 to beat back similar rules the FDA proposed for graphic warnings on cigarette packs in a legal battle that stretched to 2013, according to the complaint, which was first reported by Bloomberg News.
The Marlboro-maker added that the regulator intends to trigger an emotional response by sharing disturbing images, misleading consumers about the relative risks of smoking-related health consequences.
An FDA spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment from S&P Global Market Intelligence.