We knew those delightfully litigious purveyors of smooth, bold flavors wouldn't let us down. Five major tobacco companies have filed a lawsuit against the FDA claiming that the historic 2009 legislation that allows the agency to regulate tobacco violates the First Amendment by requiring those cheesy, not-so-graphic warning labels on cigarette packs. Attorney for the plaintiffs, the esteemed Floyd Abrams, tells CNN, "We think it violates the First Amendment for the government to require people who purchase a lawful product to essentially urge prospective purchases not to buy it."
R.J. "Joe Camel" Reyonlds, Lorillard "Alive With Pleasure" Tobacco, Ligget "Really Cheap Smokes" Tobacco, Commonwealth "Even Cheaper Smokes" Tobacco, and Santa Fe "Hipsters Spend $17/pack On Us Cause We're 'Natural'" International are all part of the suit. "The government has a lot of power to require warnings," Abrams says, but "putting photographs of diseased people on every cigarette pack…it's the direct advocacy to not buy a product." But Floyd, those people in the pictures are also REALLY COOL, remember?
Conspicuously absent on the list of plaintiffs is Philip Morris AKA Altria AKA the company that sells cigarettes but now sounds like a brand of air-freshener. They agreed early on to comply with the legislation because federal regulation of tobacco essentially esconces them as masters of the market: Philip Morris brands account for 50% of the cigarettes sold in the US, and it stands to stay that way.
The FDA does not comment on "pending or ongoing litigation," but the tobacco companies are seeking an injunction before the case even goes to trial so they won't have to waste money producing the packages with the warnings.