Graphic cigarette pack images blocked by federal judge

WASHINGTON (AP) — A judge is blocking a federal requirement that would have begun forcing tobacco companies next year to put graphic images on their cigarette packages to show the dangers of smoking.

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon ruled Monday that it's likely the cigarette makers will succeed in a lawsuit claiming the images violate the free speech amendment to the Constitution. He is stopping the requirement until the lawsuit is resolved, which could take years.

The Food and Drug Administration planned to require the images including a cloud of cigarette smoke within inches of a baby's face; a pair of healthy lungs next to the diseased lungs of a smoker; a smoker's stained teeth and a lip; and a dead smoker on an autopsy table with surgical stitches in his chest.