Tobacco companies filed two lawsuits challenging the 2009 federal law granting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authority over tobacco products:
In the first lawsuit, the tobacco companies challenged several aspects of the law, including its marketing restrictions and requirement for large, graphic warning labels on cigarette packs and advertising.
In a January 2010 ruling, Judge Joseph H. McKinley of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky upheld most provisions of the law, including the warning labels requirement. Both sides appealed aspects of this ruling. In a March 2012 ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit also upheld most provisions of the law, including the warning labels requirement.
In the second lawsuit, the tobacco companies challenged the specific cigarette warning labels required by the FDA in implementing the law. In a February 2012 ruling, Judge Richard J. Leon of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the warning labels violate the First Amendment to the Constitution and blocked them from taking effect. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, in a 2-1 decision issued in August, 2012, upheld the District Court ruling, holding that FDA's proposed graphic warnings violate the First Amendment. FDA has indicated that it is developing new graphic warnings in response to the D.C. Circuit's decision.
Here are decisions and key filings in each lawsuit, organized by the appellate court involved:
Appeals Court Ruling: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit voted 2-1 to uphold the District Court ruling striking down the FDA's proposed graphic warnings.