The federal government is trying to protect Americans from being seriously injured or killed due to using tobacco products, and this shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. One-third (30%) of all cancer deaths in this country are caused by tobacco products according to the Center for Disease Control – and the feds are, well, fed up with it. (For more on the federal government’s fight against the dangers of cigarettes, snuff, cigars, and the like, see our earlier post, “Federal Government Hammering Down on Tobacco Products – And You’re Invited to Help.”)
Big Tobacco Companies Sue the FDA Over New Warning Labels
These tobacco companies are fighting hard to stay in the marketplace, as usual. Recently, several of the Big Tobacco Companies (including R.J. Reynolds, Lorillard, and Liggett) sued the Food & Drug Administration in federal court in an effort to stop the requirement that the new warning labels (which are very, very graphic) not be allowed.
The tobacco companies are suing the FDA for (1) violating their First Amendment rights (they assert the regulation is “compelled speech” and therefore unconstitutional) and for (2) assorted administrative agency law grounds.
Key here: they want the federal judge to halt the federal regulation requiring these new labels be on products by September 2012 until the lawsuit is concluded and its legal claims are resolved. Meaning, the tobacco company plaintiffs are seeking to delay the requirement that they put these scary warning labels on their products – even if they ultimately lose the lawsuit. Buying time, if nothing else.
An initial hearing has been set by the district court judge, Honorable Richard Leon, for September 21, 2011. It will be no surprise, least of all to Judge Leon, when his ruling is appealed.
For those interested in following the case, it can be found via PACER as R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co et al v. FDA, Cause No. 11-01482 in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.