New Law Prompts Cigarette Companies to Sue

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Associated Press has posted an article about two of the three major cigarette companies filing lawsuits in response to a new law. The new law gives the Food and Drug Administration authority over the tobacco industry, which tobacco companies say violates their right of free speech.

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., maker of Camel cigarettes, and Lorillard Inc., which sells the Newport menthol brand, filed the federal lawsuit with several other tobacco companies…It is the first major challenge of the legislation passed and enacted in June, and a lawyer for tobacco consumers doubted the lawsuit will be successful.

The new law lets the FDA regulate and reduce nicotine levels in tobacco products, ban phrases such as “light” and “low tar” and require large graphic warnings to be put over any images on the carton.

The companies say in their lawsuit that the law, which takes full effect in three years, prohibits them from using “color lettering, trademarks, logos or any other imagery in most advertisements, including virtually all point-of-sale and direct-mail advertisements.” The complaint also says the law prohibits tobacco companies from “making truthful statements about their products in scientific, public policy and political debates.”

Ironically, the tobacco companies aren’t so much suing the FDA’s regulation of actual tobacco, only suit is largely about the “marketing provisions.”

“My expectation is that this lawsuit will be ultimately unsuccessful,” said Ed Sweda, a lawyer for the Tobacco Products Liability Project in Boston, pointing to previous laws limiting cigarette advertising and marketing that have been in place for more than 40 years.

We’ll definitely keep you updated on this developing case. If you have been sued and have questions, feel free to contact us.

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