Appeals Court Upholds Tobacco Control Act
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Posted by: Natalia Gromov
Legal Update: Appeals
Court Upholds Tobacco Control Act
Yesterday, an appeals court issued a decision upholding many parts of the
federal Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. Major tobacco
companies had sued the FDA in 2009 challenging the legality of many of the
Tobacco Control Act's provisions.
The Court of Appeal for the Sixth
Circuit found many parts of the Tobacco Control Act legally valid,
- large graphic warning labels required on tobacco packages,
- a ban on brand-name event sponsorships,
- a ban on branded non-tobacco items, such as hats and keychains,
- a ban on claims implying that a tobacco product is safer because of FDA
regulation and approval,
- a ban on tobacco companies making health claims about tobacco products
without FDA review, and
- a ban on the distribution of free samples.
The court ruled that two provisions of the law violated the First
Amendment of the U.S. Constitution because they restricted too much of the
tobacco companies' speech:
- a ban on brand loyalty programs, and
- a ban on color and graphics in tobacco labels and advertising.
Source: Public Health Law & Policy
The court’s decision to uphold the graphic warning label requirement is
separate from a lawsuit pending in Washington, D.C.'s Court of Appeals
questioning whether the graphic warning labels proposed by the FDA are
constitutional. The Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit will hear oral
arguments about the constitutionality of the graphic warning labels on cigarette
packages on April 10.
Yesterday's ruling may be appealed to the U.S.
Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court ultimately decides that any of the Tobacco
Control Act's provisions are unconstitutional, just those portions of the Act
would be struck down-the other provisions would remain in place. For more
information on the specific claims made in the lawsuit, see TALC's FAQ, "I
heard that tobacco companies have challenged the new Tobacco Control Act. What
is the lawsuit about and how will it affect the law's
A copy of the decision is available at www.ca6.uscourts.gov/opinions.pdf/12a0076p-06.pdf.
PHLP will continue to provide updates about relevant tobacco control cases as
they occur. If you have any questions about this or other tobacco control legal
cases, please contact us at www.phlpnet.org/tobaccoquestions.