By MICHAEL FELBERBAUM
AP Tobacco Writer
RICHMOND, VA (AP) - A federal appeals court has denied the government's request to rehear a challenge to a requirement that tobacco companies put large graphic health warnings on cigarette packages.
The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington denied the request on Wednesday.
A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment. The government has 90 days to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In August, a three-judge panel affirmed a lower court ruling blocking the Food and Drug Administration requirement.
Some of the nation's largest tobacco companies sued to block the mandate to include warnings to show the dangers of smoking and encourage smokers to quit lighting up. They argued that the proposed warnings went beyond factual information into anti-smoking advocacy.
The government argued the photos of dead and diseased smokers are factual.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.