NATO Informs Philadelphia Board of Graphics Ruling

NATO president contacts Board of Health about court decision on FDA graphic health warnings

Thomas A. Briant, NATO Executive Director

NATO President Andy Kerstein has sent an email message to the members of the Philadelphia Board of Health, informing them about the Nov. 7, 2011, federal district court ruling granting a temporary injunction against the FDA's new text and graphic image health warnings for cigarette packages and cigarette advertisements.

In September, the Philadelphia Board of Health held a public hearing on a proposed ordinance to require that a graphic image poster depicting the health consequences of tobacco use be placed next to each cash register in every Philadelphia retail store that sells tobacco products.

In August, NATO submitted a brief to the Philadelphia Board of Health informing the board members that the mandate to post a graphic image sign at each register was "compelled" speech, and violates the First Amendment's constitutional protection of free speech. NATO President Andy Kerstein also testified at the September hearing, and reiterated NATO's constitutional arguments.

With last week's federal court ruling finding that the FDA's graphic image warning labels were unconstitutionally compelled speech, the Philadelphia Board of Health needed to be informed of the decision, because the proposed ordinance attempts to impose a similar graphic image sign requirement on retailers in the city of Philadelphia.