Victory for Public Health: U.S.… | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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Victory for Public Health: U.S. Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Reynolds’ Challenge to California Law Ending Flavored Tobacco Sales

Statement of Yolonda C. Richardson, President and CEO, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
January 08, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a victory for kids and public health, the U.S. Supreme Court announced today that it will not hear R.J. Reynolds’ appeal of a lower court ruling upholding California’s law prohibiting the sale of flavored tobacco products. This decision allows California’s law to remain in effect, while also preserving the authority of states and localities across the country to enact similar lifesaving measures. R.J. Reynolds and other tobacco companies have desperately fought these laws so they can continue to target kids, Black Americans and other communities with flavored products, including flavored e-cigarettes, menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars.

This decision is the latest rejection of Reynolds’ argument that California’s law and similar state and local laws are preempted by the federal Tobacco Control Act. In fact, the Tobacco Control Act explicitly preserves the authority of states and localities to regulate the sale of tobacco products within their borders. For this reason, no court has struck down a state or local restriction on the sale of flavored tobacco products as preempted by the Tobacco Control Act. Today’s ruling marks the third time the U.S. Supreme Court has rejected tobacco industry challenges to these laws. The court previously declined to hear Reynolds’ challenge to Los Angeles County’s flavored tobacco law and denied Reynolds’ request for an emergency injunction to block implementation of California’s law.

Given these rulings, states and localities should feel secure that they are not federally preempted from passing laws ending the sale of flavored tobacco products. They should move forward expeditiously in passing these laws to protect kids, advance health equity and save lives. To provide these protections nationwide, it is critical for the Biden Administration to quickly issue final rules prohibiting menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars and for the FDA to clear the market of all flavored e-cigarettes.

California’s law was overwhelmingly approved by state lawmakers in 2020 and upheld by 63% of the state’s voters in November 2022.