RJR, Other Tobacco Companies Go To Court to Evade Regulation by FDA

Statement by Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

Aug. 31 2009

Washington, D.C. — Today's announcement by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, Lorillard Inc. and other tobacco manufacturers that they have filed suit to overturn portions of the recently passed FDA tobacco legislation is not unexpected. The lawsuit, filed in the federal court in Bowling Green, Kentucky, seeks to overturn portions of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act which deal with advertising, marketing and labeling of tobacco products.

The tobacco companies have challenged language in the bill that would compel them to scientifically justify claims of "reduced risk" for any tobacco product. They are also challenging the requirement for larger graphic warning labels on cigarette packs, as well as restrictions on colorful advertising which impacts children, advertising within 1000 feet of playgrounds or schools and numerous other marketing and advertising restrictions. In challenging these restrictions in the FDA tobacco legislation, R.J. Reynolds and the others are asking a federal court to allow them to continue to employ the same irresponsible and deadly marketing techniques which have addicted generations of American children and caused an epidemic of disease, death and heartbreak for American families.

The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, signed into law on June 22, 2009 by President Obama, is carefully crafted and consistent with the First Amendment. The advertising and marketing restrictions in the bill, first introduced in 1996 as the FDA Tobacco Rule, have been reviewed and cleared by the U.S. Department of Justice. The restrictions have been carefully developed to satisfy constitutional requirements. They are supported by recent findings by the Institute of Medicine, the President's Cancer Panel, the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia, and the National Cancer Institute.

The lawsuit filed today is simply more proof that the tobacco industry is far more interested in its bottom line than it is in doing anything meaningful to stop the cycle of addiction and disease that comes from tobacco use. The FDA tobacco bill, when fully implemented, will save lives. We hope the federal court will quickly and decisively reject the latest attempt by Big Tobacco to circumvent the law, and allow the FDA to get on with its role in putting an end to the deceptive and dangerous tobacco marketing practices which have taken such a terrible toll on this nation's health.

 

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