Court Upholds FDA Labeling Regulations on Cigarette Packaging

Posted 20 March 2012 | By Alexander Gaffney

The Cincinnati Court of Appeals has upheld the US Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) authority to require cigarette companies to adorn their tobacco products with graphic labeling, ruling FDA's advertising regulations do not violate the companies' rights to free speech.

"There can be no doubt that the government has a significant interest in preventing juvenile smoking and in warning the general public about the harms associated with the use of tobacco products," wrote Judge Eric Clay for the majority.

The court was focused on the constitutional limitations of FDA's regulatory abilities, and ruled 2-1 in favor of FDA's authority to regulate the products' advertising. The case has been closely watched by the life sciences industry for its broader implications in deciding the limits of FDA's authority to regulate advertising.

The decision adds to one made last month by the Washington DC Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that FDA was not lawful when it required cigarette companies to label their tobacco products with graphic labeling. That decision, however, was focused more on the specific requirements of FDA's graphic advertisements as opposed to its constitutional muster.

The ruling still troubled some advocates for stronger regulation. The broad wording of that decision, articulated by Judge Richard Leon, could have placed many FDA labeling regulations at risk, said Matthew Myers of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

"[This ruling ignores decades of First Amendment precedent that support the right of the government to require strong warning labels to protect the public health," said Matthews in a statement earlier this month to Reuters.


Read more:

Reuters - Court: Tobacco health labels constitutional

Regulatory Focus - Ruling on Tobacco Products Could Have Broader Implications for FDA



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