Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Cigarette Cos. Hack at FDA Regs with 1st Amendment Lawsuit

FdaImage via WikipediaFive tobacco companies have joined forces to file suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to challenge the constitutionality of Food & Drug Administration regulations set to take effect in September 2012.

In R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. et al. v. U.S. Food & Drug Administration et al. (Case No. 1:11-cv-01482), Reynolds, Lorillard Inc., Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co., Liggett Group LLC and Commonwealth Brands, Inc., claim their First Amendment rights would be violated by the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009 [H.R. 1256], which would require them to display graphic images of the health dangers of smoking in advertising and on their packaging.

First Amendment attorney Floyd Abrams, who represents the plaintiffs, told LegalTimes the FDA regs constitute anti-smoking advocacy by the government, rather than merely requiring disclosure of uncontroversial facts. Abrams told LegalTimes his clients' First Amendment rights would be infringed on if they were mandated to include information on their products urging the public not to purchase them.

Under H.R. 1256, the FDA includes nine warnings, including images of diseased lungs, a body on an autopsy table, and a quit-smoking hotline telephone number. Judge Richard J. Leon will hear the case.

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