A federal judge has blocked U.S. regulations that requires tobacco companies to display graphic images on cigarette packs, such as the one in the below photo.

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon agreed with tobacco companies on Monday and granted a temporary injunction, Reuters reported.

The judge said they would likely prevail in their lawsuit challenging the requirement as unconstitutional because it compels speech in violation of the First Amendment.

The colored graphic warning labels, taking up half the space on a cigarette pack, include photos of people with cancerous mouth lesions, rotting teeth, a man smoking through a hole in his throat, diseased lungs, and other graphic pictures.

Lorillard, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Commonwealth Brands, Inc., Liggett Group LLC, and Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company, filed a lawsuit to prevent the US Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services from mandating the new labels, arguing that the new graphic warnings force them to "engage in anti-smoking advocacy" on the government's behalf, infringing their right to free speech.

Their case was likely to succeed because of the First Amendment to the Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech, press, religion and assembly.

Already carrying text warnings from the U.S. Surgeon General, new warnings were released in June by the Food and Drug Administration to go into effect in September of 2012, the first change in U.S. cigarette warning labels in 25 years, they include 9 new warnings.

Reuters reported that, the new warnings must cover the top half of the front and back of cigarette packs and 20 percent of printed advertisements and must contain color graphics depicting the health consequences of smoking, including diseased lungs, dead bodies and rotting teeth.

"The sheer size and display requirements for the graphic images are anything but narrowly tailored," Judge Leon wrote in a 29-page opinion.

Just because Congress ordered the size and placement of the new warnings before charging the FDA with carrying out the mandate, "doing so does not enable this requirement to somehow automatically pass constitutional muster," he said.

The judge said that the content of the images would also not likely survive constitutional muster because the FDA did not attempt to narrowly tailor those either.

As reported by Reuters, the Obama administration's options include appealing Leon's ruling or the FDA could try to rewrite the rules.

Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States, accounting for one in every five deaths every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 21 percent of U.S. adults smoke cigarettes.

Worldwide, tobacco kills nearly 6 million people every year, including more than 600,000 nonsmokers, according to the World Health Organization, which has repeatedly called for graphic images to appear on tobacco packs, saying the pictorial warnings actually work.

Many smokers think that the images are disturbing and they try not to look at the graphic image.

Government attorneys said that the labels conveyed the dangers of smoking more effectively than words alone, and are needed to stop more people from smoking, especially teenagers.

But Judge Leon said that the images provoked an emotional response rather than just providing factual and noncontroversial information, crossing the line into using company advertising for government advocacy.

Floyd Abrams, a prominent First Amendment lawyer representing Lorillard, said that Leon’s ruling was a "vindication for the well-established First Amendment principle that the government may not compel speech in the commercial area," and that there is a “good chance” the case will reach the U.S. Supreme Court.