Every adult knows that smoking too many cigarettes can lead to serious health consequences (as can over-consumption of countless other things). Adults, however, have a right to make decisions for themselves, and businessmen have a right to market their products as they see fit, so long as they do not engage in force, fraud, extortion, or the like.

Consequently, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon (of Washington, DC) was right to toss the FDA’s mandate that cigarette companies attach graphically gruesome labels to tobacco packaging. As NPR reports, the judge said the mandate would “violate the First Amendment by unconstitutionally compelling speech.”

The government’s proper job is to protect individual rights, not to save people from the consequences of their own rights-respecting decisions. So long as cigarette companies do not misrepresent the nature of their products or negligently cause harm to consumers, the government’s proper policy can be summarized in two words: Hands off!

Kudos to Judge Leon for upholding freedom of speech.

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Image: iStockPhoto

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