公共健康还是私人自由?

普林斯顿—上个月出现了两起相反的判决。美国联邦上诉法院驳回了美国食品药品管理局关于香烟必须在印有健康警告图片的包装中销售的诉请,而澳大利亚最高法院的判决支持比美国激进得多的法律。根据澳大利亚的这项法律,烟草包装盒上不仅必须印上健康警告和吸烟引起的身体伤害的图片,而且包装本身必须非常简单,品牌名称需用小号通用字体印刷,不得带有商标图案,也不许用毫无生气的橄榄棕以外的颜色。

美国的裁决基础是美国宪法对言论自由的保护。法庭接受政府可以要求标上真实、正确的健康警告,但(微弱)多数意见认为不能到要求印上图像的程度。在澳大利亚,问题在于该法是否隐含着无条件征用——在这个案例中,是烟草公司对自身商标的知识产权。最高法院的裁决是没有。

但是,这些差异的背后是一个更大的问题:谁来决定公共健康和言论自由之间恰当的平衡?在美国,这由法院决定——从根本上说是通过如何解读有着225年历史的法律条文来决定——这会让政府可能减少香烟致死人数(最新数据表明每年有443000人)的方案受挫?也得执行。在澳大利亚,言论自由并没有宪法明文予以保护,法庭有更大的可能尊重民主选出的政府决定恰当平衡的权利。

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