BOSTON (AP/FOX 10) - A federal judge in Boston has ordered the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to create graphic health warnings for cigarette packs and related advertising by next year.
The Boston Globe reports that Judge Indira Talwani ordered Tuesday that the agency must complete a study of the graphic warnings by April 15, submit a rule mandating the warnings for publication by Aug. 15, and have the warnings ready by March 15, 2020.
The order follows a lawsuit seeking to force the FDA to require cigarette packages to have images showing what tobacco can do to the body.
Groups behind the lawsuit say graphic warnings are most effective at preventing people from smoking and encouraging smokers to quit.
According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, "Requiring graphic cigarette warnings in the U.S. will protect kids, save lives and reduce tobacco-related health care costs, which total $170 billion a year."
The FDA has not responded to a request for comment.
In 2009, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act was signed into law. It gives the FDA authority to regulate the manufacture, distribution, and marketing of tobacco products.
Graphic warnings on cigarette packages are visible in other parts of the world.
For example, according to the Australian Government's Department of Health, "The graphic health warnings provide a strong and confronting message to smokers about the harmful health consequences of tobacco products and convey the 'quit' message every time a person reaches for a cigarette."
Australian Government: Health warning label images [graphic content]
FOX 10 reported on this story from Phoenix.