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← US cigarette makers sue over graphic warning labels - freedom of speech?

US cigarette makers sue over graphic warning labels - freedom of speech? - Comments

epeeist's Avatar Comment 1 by epeeist

Can a corporation have a right to free speech? Shouldn't this be reserved for real as opposed to pretend people?

Tue, 23 Aug 2011 18:46:56 UTC | #863441

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 2 by Alan4discussion

This is an interesting topic because other multinational industries have adopted the tobacco industry strategy of funding and organising the rubbishing valid scientific research by stealth, where it undermines their commercial interests, - sponsoring political stooges and publicity agencies to feed disinformation to the public.

Tue, 23 Aug 2011 19:05:09 UTC | #863455

Scruddy Bleensaver's Avatar Comment 3 by Scruddy Bleensaver

Comment 1 by epeeist :

Can a corporation have a right to free speech? Shouldn't this be reserved for real as opposed to pretend people?

In 2011 America, corporations are people according to the supreme court.

Tue, 23 Aug 2011 19:49:29 UTC | #863470

Jay G's Avatar Comment 4 by Jay G

Isn't this an issue of "forced speech"? In America you have a right to say what you want AND you have a right not to be forced to say what you don't want to say. For example, children in school cannot be FORCED to say the pledge because that violates their right to free speech. (I think).

In this case, however, let the companies go to hell. They make huge profits (and get subsidies from the government) by selling death. When are we going to stop deifying corporations? I'm not against business and profit, but I am against allowing corporations to knowingly sell dangerous products without ANY regard for their (the companies) responsibility to society.

Tue, 23 Aug 2011 20:25:02 UTC | #863489

The Plc's Avatar Comment 5 by The Plc

Comment 1 by epeeist :

Can a corporation have a right to free speech? Shouldn't this be reserved for real as opposed to pretend people?

Tue, 23 Aug 2011 21:06:53 UTC | #863513

Carl Sai Baba's Avatar Comment 6 by Carl Sai Baba

To those who would declare that "corporations aren't people" (in fact, a corporation is MANY people) and therefore have no rights, I submit that, by their logic, the atheist groups which have asserted a legal right to buy billboards and bus ads in fact had no such right because a 501c also "isn't a person".

If you don't want them to sell tobacco, you will have to actually ban tobacco, not abuse labeling authority to slowly cover their entire product and stifle their right to label their own product with their own name.

Furthermore, they are correct in their description of this new label. Agree with it or not, they are far more than simple disclosures of fact. If you approve of the message in the propaganda, at least maintain the political integrity to insist that the government buy its own paper on which to print it.

Tue, 23 Aug 2011 21:21:00 UTC | #863521

think4urself's Avatar Comment 7 by think4urself

Personally I have no heartburn about it if the govment wants to force the ciggie corps to put nasty pics on the packs. They'll pass along the expense to the user which will in turn make it harder to afford the poison sticks. But being a former teenager myself, I have a feeling that showing ciggies to be dangerous is probably not a major deterent to light one up, and in fact may work the other way around and make it even more inticing.

I think another way to help young people see the truth about smoking might be having their pop idols -(from music, fashion, film, sports, etc) put their pics on the packs with a quote about how uncool smoking is. Imagine a rapper on the box? Or put pics of these pop culture role models on "cool" websites where youngsters hang out, with a message about how nasty smoking is. I've seen a few TV commercials along this line which I thought were good. Oh yeah, and make the ciggie corps PAY for all this out of their obscene billion dollar profit margins.

Tue, 23 Aug 2011 21:36:58 UTC | #863528

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 8 by Alan4discussion

In the UK all medicines have warnings on the labels about the correct dose, and cautions against potential side effects from misuse.

Cigarette packets also have statutory health warnings. I know putting children off smoking damages company profits! So what! The companies spent years misinforming the public about heath risks to maintain these profits, which is why they are now paying out compensation claims to some of those whose health they have damaged.

Tue, 23 Aug 2011 22:35:33 UTC | #863543

DocWebster's Avatar Comment 9 by DocWebster

If I had my way a pack of cigarettes would have pictures of dead smokers laid open on a table with their diseased lungs out there for all to see. There would be no brand name at all, just a warning that says something to the effect that the poor bastard in the picture smoked x amount of packs a day of this product for x number of years. The other thing I would do is levy a five dollar a pack tax on top of taxes already levied. If people want to pay 10 or 12 dollars a pack they can have them and welcome. I smoked 2 packs a day for 12 years and enjoyed every last minute of it from the taste to the Zippo lighter I used to light them, lest you think I'm one of those hipster morons who moralizes just to hear the sound of his own keyboard. I'm sick of smokers, sick sick sick!!!!! I hate the way they think they have the right to smell like stale cigarette butts in a moldy ash tray all the damn time. I hate the fact that they breath, period! What I hate most of all though is the stupid bastards that smoke like a chimney for 30 years and end up with cancer then sue because the evil tobacco companies got them hooked. It's a bunch of BS matched only in width and breadth by fundamentalist xtianity.

Tue, 23 Aug 2011 23:56:49 UTC | #863557

ZenDruid's Avatar Comment 10 by ZenDruid

...And in further news, DocWebster died violently in the Nicotine Riots of 2012.

Fucking oxygen breathers. I'm already taxed without representation, and kicked out into the rain to boot. Fuckers.

[edit] Try rolling your own. You'll smoke fewer.

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 00:34:57 UTC | #863566

think4urself's Avatar Comment 11 by think4urself

Poor Doc Webster! Zen you are a hoot! I guess your point is that smoker's have the legal right, if not the moral right, to stink up their breath, hair and clothes, AND the rest of us have the right to bitch about it and make them keep it out of our faces.

Another consideration is that when they develop COPD, congestive heart failure, pulmonary embolli, and cancer, WE the taxpayer have to foot the medical bill in the form of Medicaid and other programs. So that's where it becomes OUR right to have a voice in this question of how the ciggie corporations can advirtise, and how they can be taxed, and that a significant amount of their taxation should go towards anti-smoking programs. See, these ciggie corps are costing us taxpayers money, while they pile up billions in propfit from the misery of others. They should have to pay all the medical bills for these poor loosers who are intent upon killing themselves slowly with damn ciggarettes!

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 02:31:32 UTC | #863594

loqueelviento's Avatar Comment 12 by loqueelviento

Comment 6 by Carl Sai Baba : slowly cover their entire product and stifle their right to label their own product with their own

Furthermore, they are correct in their description of this new label. Agree with it or not, they are far more than simple disclosures of fact. If you approve of the message in the propaganda, at least maintain the political integrity to insist that the government buy its own paper on which to print it.

Not a problem. Let's raise an additional tax on tobacco packaging so that the government pays its own paper.

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 02:41:42 UTC | #863595

Roedy's Avatar Comment 13 by Roedy

Canada has successfully drastically reduced smoking. It is most obvious to me when I watch old movies, where nearly everyone smokes. Now almost nobody does, and when they do, they do it in "secret". I also got quite a shock visiting the Netherlands where even young people smoke. It is so odd since they are generally so healthy. Its a peer pressure phenomenon either to smoke or not smoke.

One of the techniques that used was graphic images on cigarette packs. That is why US tobacco companies are screaming. These measures work. It has nothing to do with freedom of speech.

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 02:43:48 UTC | #863597

DocWebster's Avatar Comment 14 by DocWebster

Yeah I know, Smokers are people too. That doesn't stop me from giving every mook that tries to bum a smoke off me the crazy eye. Today, waiting for the bus, a guy walks up and offers me a box of food he bought at the store down the street, with his food stamps, for 10 bucks so he could buy some smokes. He literally tried to engage me in a felony. I took his picture and emailed it to a friend and the state office. I just love smart phones.

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 02:52:37 UTC | #863599

mmurray's Avatar Comment 15 by mmurray

Comment 6 by Carl Sai Baba :

If you don't want them to sell tobacco, you will have to actually ban tobacco,

Why do we have to ban it ? We all know the consequences of banning things that some people want. We just control it like we control other dangerous items that are legal to sell under specified restrictions.

not abuse labeling authority to slowly cover their entire product and stifle their right to label their own product with their own name.

In Australia we are withdrawing their right to put anything on the product and demanding they use plain packaging.

Michael

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 02:56:46 UTC | #863602

crookedshoes's Avatar Comment 16 by crookedshoes

look, it is not a level playing field; nor will it be any time soon. Any claim. ANY CLAIM can be fostered as truth as long as in a tiny corner of the advertisement it says "not real". Camo your "not real" any way you can.... camo is fair game..... "If it is advertised, then it is dishonest" is the mantra I live by...

Stop fucking blaming the advertiser and start blaming the consumer...... Cigarettes do not contain vitamin D.... All the women who consume beer do not look like those in a coors light ad; and, you will not develop the abs you've always wanted because you strap on a belt with electricity strategically supplied to it...

Avoid everything advertised and then bitch when your world has been breeched.

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 02:59:54 UTC | #863604

crookedshoes's Avatar Comment 17 by crookedshoes

BTW, you could put a skull and crossbones on the label and call the product "TUMORS" and some subset of the population would buy them and consume them..... then they would bitch about the advertisements....

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 03:02:01 UTC | #863606

sbrogdon's Avatar Comment 18 by sbrogdon

Me being a smoker, I think the companies have a valid reason to be upset. You don't see dead bodies beside mangled vehicles on beer bottles. You don't see people smiling with only one tooth on soda bottles. You don't see dead and bloated corpses weighing 500 pounds on Mc Donald bags. Why is the government singling out tobacco ? There are plenty of things we put into our bodies that are harmful.

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 03:31:47 UTC | #863617

crookedshoes's Avatar Comment 19 by crookedshoes

with the level of straight out bullshit that is allowed under todays advertisement laws, I am incredulous that any lobby would have the audacity to call "foul" when there really is no lobby against them...... There really is no fund against smoking, except for the funding that is put aside from the profits of smoking; set up against the profits from smoking.... really ridiculous if you process it......

Like Scarface advertising against cocaine addiction......as disingenuous as it gets.....

"Hi, this is Tony Montana AGAINST cocaine addiction.... try one line.... just try one line..... I am not to blame for your addiction, because I did not tell you to try ten lines or a hundred lines..... just one line.... try it....." Then he fucking walks away.... with your money in his pocket.......no shortage of cocksuckers on this planet.....

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 03:59:05 UTC | #863622

CarolineMary's Avatar Comment 20 by CarolineMary

Comment 18 by sbrogdon :

Me being a smoker, I think the companies have a valid reason to be upset. You don't see dead bodies beside mangled vehicles on beer bottles. You don't see people smiling with only one tooth on soda bottles. You don't see dead and bloated corpses weighing 500 pounds on Mc Donald bags. Why is the government singling out tobacco ? There are plenty of things we put into our bodies that are harmful.

OK - we need to eat, yes? And drink, too. There are safe levels of food, soda (ie as much as you like if you clean your mouth afterwards) and alcohol consumption.

What's the safe level of smoke inhalation?

And all of the above are user only. I don't get fat if the person next to me supersizes their meal, I don't get drunk from their booze. But if you light up next to me, I will be forced to breathe your poison.

Why should I have to?

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 09:58:58 UTC | #863689

Stevehill's Avatar Comment 21 by Stevehill

epeeist:

Can a corporation have a right to free speech? Shouldn't this be reserved for real as opposed to pretend people?

It's been trite law in the UK for more than a century that a corporation is a "person" independent of its directors, and furthermore a person entitled to human rights. And responsibilities.

This is not wholly a bad thing. For example, the concept allows us to punish corporations which break laws.

Out of interest, where does the US stand on truth in advertising versus free speech? Is it OK for Macdonalds to sell supersize burgers as healthy weight loss supplements? Can I expensively package up mud from the bed of some local polluted river and sell it as a beauty product?

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 11:00:05 UTC | #863703

Fujikoma's Avatar Comment 22 by Fujikoma

If a corporation is allowed to have free speech, then shouldn't they also be charged with negligent homicide as it pertains to the death of people using their products? Since one can't place a corporation in prison, one could just suspend sales of that offending product for the duration of the sentence. There's also a difference between tobacco and the other products mentioned. Drinking, in and of itself, does not involve driving. It is already against the law in the U.S. to drive while intoxicated. Eating fast food or drinking pop, while both are not healthy, is really not the same thing as smoking. Smoking offers NO benefits, but does cause many health problems. So... if smoking is more dangerous than drinking, shouldn't the govt. mandate that you can only smoke, by yourself, in an enclosed room, so you don't affect those around you? As to the comment that corporations are no different than groups of people that claim free speech, I think there's a mis-understanding. A corporation isn't run by its workers, it's run by people trying to make money. The workers don't decide whether the corporation accepts this or not. They don't even get to vote on what they should be paid. Didn't the SCOTUS decision come about because a company claimed that it had a right to lie and not be compelled to tell the truth because it was a 'person'?

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 11:13:28 UTC | #863708

foundationist's Avatar Comment 23 by foundationist

I think the OP made a good analogy when asking about the right to freedom of speech for con-men. You are not allowed to perniciously spout lies in order to gain your goals at a terrible price for others. Ads for smoking do that. The labelling is just restoring the ballance. Alternatively one could outlaw any advertisement - including package layout - for tobacco products.

@sbrogdon: They single out the tobacco industry because the product they are selling is incredibly addictive, much much more so than fat food or sugary drinks, although I am indeed in favor of warning labels on those too. As a person who has been on more than one package a day for many years before I managed to quit, I know what I´m talking about, and I´m sure you know what I´m talking about too. Practically every smoker I ever talked to actually wanted to quit but just wasn´t able too. You probably as well. That´s what makes tobacco different from other prducts.

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 14:47:35 UTC | #863760

Sample's Avatar Comment 24 by Sample

Why is the government singling out tobacco? (Comment 18/sbrogdon)

Perhaps because smoking related deaths outnumber (significantly) the other vices you listed?

From the CDC:

•The adverse health effects from cigarette smoking account for an estimated 443,000 deaths, or nearly one of every five deaths, each year in the United States.

•More deaths are caused each year by tobacco use than by all deaths from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides, and murders combined.2,4

Mike

P.S., deaths from obesity are also eclipsed by smoking related deaths though those figures were controversial in 2005, but not controversial enough to deny the supremacy of tobacco deaths.

P.S.S., If I had a say, I would ask that any rotating warning on cigarettes would also include the danger of second hand smoke for pets.

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 14:48:38 UTC | #863761

Sample's Avatar Comment 25 by Sample

Comment 21 by Stevehill

Out of interest, where does the US stand on truth in advertising versus free speech?

I think Bob Dylan (as "Boo Wilbury" in the Travelling Wilburys) provides the answer to your question when he sings, "In Jersey anything's legal as long as you don't get caught."

Mike

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 15:04:37 UTC | #863764

DocWebster's Avatar Comment 26 by DocWebster

Comment 21 by Stevehill :

epeeist:

Can a corporation have a right to free speech? Shouldn't this be reserved for real as opposed to pretend people?

It's been trite law in the UK for more than a century that a corporation is a "person" independent of its directors, and furthermore a person entitled to human rights. And responsibilities.

This is not wholly a bad thing. For example, the concept allows us to punish corporations which break laws.

Out of interest, where does the US stand on truth in advertising versus free speech? Is it OK for Macdonalds to sell supersize burgers as healthy weight loss supplements? Can I expensively package up mud from the bed of some local polluted river and sell it as a beauty product?

It also serves to insulate the actual people that make the decisions to commit illegal acts using that corporation. They can just drain the corp. down to a piece of paper start a new blame free corp. with all the same people running the show and the victims get to fight the dead corp's lawyers for years to find out it's just a piece of paper. Corporate personhood is the single greatest scam ever perpetrated although it has done wonders for law schools.

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 15:34:32 UTC | #863773

danconquer's Avatar Comment 27 by danconquer

Comment 6 by Carl Sai Baba :

To those who would declare that "corporations aren't people" (in fact, a corporation is MANY people) and therefore have no rights, I submit that, by their logic, the atheist groups which have asserted a legal right to buy billboards and bus ads in fact had no such right because a 501c also "isn't a person".

This is a good point... and so for that reason I will try and tackle it!

Yes, I agree that fundamental human rights should not cease to exist just because we are dealing with a collective of people rather than an individual. As you say, an atheist group should be able to make legal challenges based upon human rights legislation.

So why do I still think that a tobacco company - or any company for that matter - should not benefit from such protections? It's because they are a commercial entity. Running a business is a legally defined and constituted activity in its own right, that brings with it unique rights and responsibilities. A corporation is legally compelled to maximise its shareholder's interests first and foremost. It is a vehicle for making profit. Freedom of speech is about protecting the exchange and competition of ideas. But corporations do not exists to facilitate the exchange of ideas; they exist to trade goods and services in order to make a profit for their owners.

There is nothing to stop individuals or groups setting up an organisation designed to promote tobacco use. Indeed such groups exist, and are protected by free speech regulations, precisely because their purpose is not to sell a good or service, but to promote and exchange an idea.

To expand the analogy, telling a hotel or restaurant owner that they cannot turn away gay or black would-be customers is NOT an infringement of their "right to freedom of association", all the while as a private individual they still remain free to invite (or prohibit) whoever the hell they want to their own private dinner parties. So, no, all the while your sole purpose is selling stuff to society, then it is perfectly right and proper for society to set all sorts of limits on your behaviour which would not be acceptable were they to be imposed on non-commercial activity.

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 18:07:28 UTC | #863818

Misfire's Avatar Comment 28 by Misfire

I say we run with it; here's why:

You know all those ridiculous warnings, like "Open away from face" on a bottle of coke, or "Contents may be hot" on a thermos? Imagine if they all had pictures to go along with them. I would never leave the supermarket.

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 18:51:35 UTC | #863826

Robert Firth's Avatar Comment 29 by Robert Firth

I'm a lifelong non smoker, but must confess that on this one I side with the companies. Objective, accurate health warnings are reasonable, but requiring a company essentially to rubbish its own product at its own expense seems to me a clear case of "forced speech".

And when I also reflect that far, far more people have been killed by government than by tobacco, I wonder just who should be imposing the health warning on whom.

Thu, 25 Aug 2011 01:27:40 UTC | #863970

Sean_W's Avatar Comment 30 by Sean_W

I take it that sin tax money hasn't been used to improve the literacy rate?

But really, why stop at words and pictures? I say the more senses we can hit the better. We have singing cards, why not coughing packs of smokes? Every time a smoker opens the pack it wheezes.Then we could read a warning, see a diseased lung, and hear a smokers cough. We're sure to stop smoking then.

Thu, 25 Aug 2011 02:08:38 UTC | #863982