A federal appeals court is set to hear arguments over a law giving the Food and Drug Administration the power to regulate tobacco advertising and marketing.
The three-judge panel from the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday will hear a challenge from tobacco companies who say the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act illegally restricts their free speech rights.
In January 2010, U.S. District Judge Joseph H. McKinley Jr. in Bowling Green, Ky., rejected much of the first major challenge to the law brought by tobacco companies. McKinley upheld most of the marketing restrictions in the law, including a ban on tobacco companies sponsoring athletic, social and cultural events or offering free samples or branded merchandise. The judge also upheld a requirement that warning labels cover half the packaging on each tobacco product.
The judge threw out a ban on color and graphics on most tobacco advertising.
The act, signed into law in June 2009, lets the FDA limit but not ban nicotine. It also lets the agency ban candy flavorings and marketing claims such "low tar" and "light," require warnings be emblazoned over carton images, regulate what goes into tobacco products and publicize those ingredients.
Joining R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., maker of Camel cigarettes, and Lorillard Inc., which sells Newport menthols, were National Tobacco Co., Discount Tobacco City & Lottery Inc., and Kentucky-based Commonwealth Brands, which is owned by Britain's Imperial Tobacco Group PLC.