The United States is planning to join the ranks of more than 30 countries that require cigarette packages to carry large graphic photographs depicting the consequences of smoking. Studies consistently show that these disturbing images are effective at exposing the health risks, discouraging individuals from starting to smoke, and getting current smokers to quit smoking. The FDA has proposed that cigarette packs be designed to shock, meaning that they will not just say “smoking can kill you.” And for anyone objecting the images are too graphic, the FDA’s answer was “good.” They want to make sure that every individual who picks up a pack of cigarettes is going to know exactly what the risk they are taking is. The images could start appearing in two years.
Cigarette manufacturers have been the subject of many product liability lawsuits. Some tobacco product liability claimants suffering from lung cancer have been quite successful in claiming compensation from manufacturers. But, claiming product liability compensation for heart disease caused by tobacco is considerably more difficult because heart disease is so common in the western world. Now, once graphic images are placed on cigarette packages, there will be a clear warning of what cigarettes will do to the user’s bodies and health. One who then receives those after using cigarettes that come in such clearly marked containers may be described as having “assumed the risk,” which is a defense in the law of torts and bars a plaintiff from recovery if the defendant can demonstrate that the plaintiff voluntarily and knowingly assumed the risks.
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