Judge Blocks Graphic Warning Images on Cigarette Packaging
The Food and Drug Administration has been fighting since 2009 to force tobacco companies to put prominent and alarming warning labels outlining the dangers of smoking on cigarette packs.
Under the FDA’s regulation, cigarette makers had until September 2012 to add the labels as a public service, but cigarette makers have been fighting the requirement every step of the way.
For the tobacco industry, this battle boils down to first amendment rights—five mega companies, including R.J Reynolds and Lorillard, have sued the government for upending their freedom of speech.
Now, a Washington judge has ruled that the tobacco companies have a valid point. U.S. District Judge Richard Leon, who initially temporarily blocked the label requirement in November, has declared once again that the FDA’s efforts are unconstitutional.
Judge Leon’s ruling stated that the graphic images “were neither designed to protect the consumer from confusion or deception, nor to increase consumer awareness of smoking risks; rather, they were crafted to evoke a strong emotional response calculated to provoke the viewer to quit or never start smoking.”
In June 2011 the FDA approved nine controversial images to appear on the packs along with a phone number for a stop-smoking hotline. The images, including a pair of diseased lungs, a man breathing into an oxygen mask, a premature baby in an incubator and a close-up of a cancer-ridden mouth, were designed to cover the entire top half of all cigarette packs, front and back—a requirement that tobacco companies insisted would overshadow branding and cost them millions.
“While the line between the constitutionally permissible dissemination of factual information and the impermissible expropriation of a company’s advertising space for government advocacy can be frustratingly blurry, here the line seems quite clear,” wrote Leon.
After Judge Leon’s ruling, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a statement in which it vowed to continue to fight for the controversial warning labels.
“This Administration is determined to do everything we can to warn young people about the dangers of smoking, which remains the leading cause of preventable death in America,” the statement read. “This public health initiative will be an effective tool in our efforts to stop teenagers from starting in the first place and taking up this deadly habit. We are confident that efforts to stop these important warnings from going forward will ultimately fail.”
How AWS helps NASCAR delight its fans
AWS needs no introduction to readers of Technology Magazine but we rarely get an opportunity to look closely at how it serves the sports sector. All major sports draw in a huge supporter base that they want to nurture and support. Technology is the key to every major sports organization and enabling this is the driving force for AWS, says Matt Hurst, Head of Global Sports Marketing and Communications for AWS. “In sports, as in every industry, machine learning and artificial intelligence and high performance computing are helping to usher in the next wave of technical sports innovation.”
AWS approaches sports in three principal areas. “The first is unlocking data’s potential: leagues and teams hold vast amounts of data and AWS is enabling them to analyze that data at scale and make better, more informed decisions. The second is engaging and delighting fans: with AWS fans are getting deeper insights through visually compelling on-screen graphics and interactive Second Screen experiences. And the third is rapidly improving sports performance: leagues and teams are using AWS to innovate like never before.”
Among the many global brands that partner with AWS are Germany's Bundesliga, the NFL, F1, the NHL, the PGA Tour and of course NASCAR. NASCAR has worked with AWS on its digital transformation (migrating it's 18 petabyte video archive containing 70 years of historical footage to AWS), to optimize its cloud data center operations and to enable its global brand expansion. AWS Media Services powers the NASCAR Drive mobile app, delivering broadcast-quality content for more than 80 million fans worldwide. The platform, including AWS Elemental MediaLive and AWS Elemental MediaStore, helps NASCAR provide fans instant access to the driver’s view of the race track during races, augmented by audio and a continually updated leaderboard. “And NASCAR will use our flagship machine learning service Amazon SageMaker to train deep learning models to enhance metadata and video analytics.”
Using AWS artificial intelligence and machine learning, NASCAR aims to deliver even more fan experiences that they'd never have anticipated. “Just imagine a race between Dale Earnhardt Sr and Dale Jr at Talladega! There's a bright future, and we're looking forward to working with NASCAR, helping them tap into AWS technology to continue to digitally transform, innovate and create even more fan experiences.”
Just as AWS is helping NASCAR bridge that historical gap between the legacy architecture and new technology, more customers are using AWS for machine learning than any other provider. As an example, who would have thought five years ago that NFL would be using ML to predict and prevent injury to its players? Since 2017, the league has utilized AWS as its official cloud and ML provider for the NFL Next Gen Stats (NGS) platform, which provides real-time location data, speed, and acceleration for every player during every play on every inch of the field. “One of the most potentially revolutionary components of the NFL-AWS partnership,” says Matt Hurst, “is the development of the 'Digital Athlete,' a computer simulation model that can be used to replicate infinite scenarios within the game environment—including variations by position and environmental factors, emphasizing the league's commitment to player safety.”