In June, the Food and Drug Administration released nine new warning labels that depict in graphic detail the negative health effects of tobacco use. Now, four of the five largest US tobacco companies want a judge to stop the government from using them.

The companies, led by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Lorillard Tobacco Co., claim the labels violate their free speech rights by promoting the government’s anti-smoking campaign more prominently on cigarette packs. The warnings, which include images of diseased lungs and corpses, will be printed on the top half, front and back, of each package.

“Never before in the United States have producers of a lawful product been required to use their own packaging and advertising to convey an emotionally charged government message urging adult consumers to shun their products,” the companies wrote in the lawsuit. The tobacco firms also claim the new labels will cost them millions of dollars in new equipment.

The FDA would not comment on the pending litigation, but Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius previously described the new labels as frank and honest warnings about the dangers of smoking.

More From Newstalk 1290