Tobacco Cos. File Suit Challenging FDA Graphic Labels
GREENSBORO, N.C. — Lorillard Inc., the third largest manufacturer of cigarettes in the United States, filed suit today against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), challenging its nine new cigarette warnings as an unconstitutional way of forcing tobacco manufacturers to disseminate the government’s anti-smoking message.
Lorillard filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia along with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Commonwealth Brands Inc. and Liggett Group LLC.
Under the FDA’s recently announced regulation, cigarette packs and cartons and all cigarette advertising must display new graphic warnings by Sept. 22, 2012. The suit seeks a preliminary injunction to stay the effective date of the regulation and a declaration that the regulation is unconstitutional.
“The regulations violate the First Amendment,” said Floyd Abrams, a partner in the New York law firm of Cahill Gordon & Reindel, who is representing Lorillard. “The notion that the government can require those who manufacture a lawful product to emblazon half of its package with pictures and words admittedly drafted to persuade the public not to purchase that product cannot withstand constitutional scrutiny. The government can engage in as much anti-smoking advocacy as it chooses in whatever language and with whatever pictures it chooses; it cannot force those who lawfully sell tobacco to the public to carry that message, those words and those pictures.”