FDA Will Not Appeal Decision On Cigarette Graphic Warnings

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services do not plan to appeal a District of Columbia U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling issued last August that invalidated the FDA’s graphic cigarette health warnings, the National Association for Tobacco Outlets (NATO) reported.  

The news came via a letter send March 15 by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to House Speaker John Boehner, and was originally reported by the Associated Press.

According to the Associated Press, the Attorney General’s letter noted, “In light of these circumstances, the Solicitor General has determined…not to seek Supreme Court review of the First Amendment issues at the present time.”

In a blog statement, Dr. Howard K. Koh, the Assistant Secretary for Health for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services noted: “Although we pushed forcefully for graphic health warning labels to appear on cigarette packages, the D.C. Circuit’s ruling against the warning labels won’t deter the FDA from seeking an effective and sound way to implement the law. The FDA has announced it will undertake research to support new rulemaking on graphic warning labels consistent with the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.”

What this means is that the FDA intends to conduct research and develop regulations for new warning labels that would meet the requirements under the federal law known as the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act and also comply with constitutional free speech standards, NATO noted.

In addition to this District of Columbia Circuit Court case, there is a second separate lawsuit pending. That lawsuit was filed by American Snuff Co., Commonwealth Brands, NATO retail member Discount Tobacco City & Lottery, Lorillard Tobacco Company, National Tobacco Co., and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. against the FDA and the Department of Health and Human Services, and seeks to overturn the graphic cigarette health warnings and other marketing and promotion restrictions. 

In this second lawsuit, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld the graphic cigarette health warning labels as being constitutional and the plaintiffs have filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court requesting that the high court accept the case on appeal.  The Supreme Court has not issued a decision on whether to accept the case for appeal.




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