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Judicial Trends Judicial Trends in Public HealthRegulating Communications

RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company, et al. v. FDA, et al.


(U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, March 21, 2024): The Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit rejected a First Amendment challenge to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) new graphic warning label requirement for cigarette packages and advertisements. Cigarette manufacturers had successfully challenged the FDA’s initial set of graphic warnings in 2011; the Agency proposed new warnings in 2021. Cigarette manufacturers again challenged the regulations on First Amendment grounds. The Court found that the new warnings are factual and non-controversial and justified by the government’s interest in promoting greater public understanding of the negative health consequences of smoking. The Court also found that the regulation is not unduly burdensome as cigarette manufacturers have myriad ways to advertise their products beyond the portion of the packaging and ads containing the graphic warnings. However, the case was remanded to the district court for consideration of the claim that the FDA violated the Administrative Procedure Act, a claim the district court had not decided. Read the full decision here.

View all cases in the Judicial Trends in Public Health – May 14, 2024.

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