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US pushes on tobacco warnings

RICHMOND — The US government is asking a federal appeals court to rehear a challenge to a Food and Drug Administration requirement that tobacco companies put large graphic health warnings on cigarette packages to show that smoking can disfigure and kill people.

The Justice Department filed a petition Tuesday asking for the full court to rehear the case after a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals in Washington affirmed in August a lower court ruling blocking the mandate, saying it ran afoul of the First Amendment’s free speech protections. The court rarely grants such appeals.

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Some of the nation’s largest tobacco companies sued to block the mandate, arguing that the proposed warnings went beyond factual information into antismoking advocacy. The government argued the photos are factual.

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