By Lawrence Hurley
WASHINGTON, April 22 The U.S. Supreme Court on
Monday declined to hear a tobacco industry challenge to a
federal law that expanded restrictions on the advertising and
marketing of cigarettes.
The provisions of the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and
Tobacco Control Act under attack included one requiring the
display of a large health warning on packaging and another
banning the sponsorship of public events.
The law also requires that before a tobacco product can be
marketed, the manufacturer must prove to the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration that it is less dangerous than other tobacco
products. This provision is aimed at descriptive marketing terms
such as "light" and "mild."
Those challenging the provisions of the law included
companies owned in part or in full by Reynolds American Inc
, British American Tobacco Plc, Imperial Tobacco
Group Plc and Lorillard Inc.
The companies claimed the law violates the First Amendment's
guarantee of freedom of speech, imposing "myriad restrictions
on truthful, non-misleading speech to adult tobacco consumers."
In response, the Obama administration noted in court papers
that the law was specifically drafted to battle a recognized
public health problem. Congress was particularly interested in
restricting the marketing of cigarettes to young people,
government lawyers wrote.
The Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
upheld the law in full, saying the warnings "are reasonably
related to the government's interest in preventing consumer
The case is distinct from a separate industry challenge to
regulations the FDA issued to implement the graphic warning
requirement. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of
Columbia Circuit tossed out the regulation. The FDA is currently
drafting a new one.
The case is American Snuff Company v. United States, U.S.
Supreme Court, No. 12-521.