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Court Blocks Graphic Warnings on Cigarettes

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services(WASHINGTON) -- A federal appeals court Friday said tobacco campanies don't have to put large graphic warnings on cigarette packs.

In a 2 to 1 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington sided with tobacco campanies, affirming a lower court ruling that said the large warnings and graphic photos on cigarette packs violate First Amendment protections.

"The First Amendment requires the government not only to state a substantial interest justifying a regulation on commercial speech, but also to show that its regulation directly advances that goal," Judge Janice Rogers Brown stated in the majority opinion, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Brown added in the opinion that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration failed to show evidence that such graphic warning labels would reduce smoking rates, the Journal reports.

The FDA had proposed that, staring in September, tobacco companies add visual graphics with warnings about smoking to cigarette packaging.

The judges ruled Friday that the warnings -- and photos -- go beyond factual information into anti-smoking advocacy.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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