Cases & Deals

R.J. Reynolds successfully challenges constitutionality of graphic cigarette warning labels

Client(s) R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit affirmed a District Court ruling in favor of Jones Day client R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's  proposed graphic warning labels on cigarette packs are unconstitutional. The court agreed with Reynolds' arguments that the FDA requirement was compelled speech that violates the companies' First Amendment rights. Jones Day partner Noel Francisco argued the appeal in April 2012 on behalf of Reynolds.

Reynolds and other tobacco companies had filed suit against the government to block enforcement of the FDA label rules, enacted as part of the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Act. The D.C. Circuit voted 2-1 against the FDA, noting that the case raises “novel questions about the scope of the government’s authority to force the manufacturer of a product to go beyond making purely factual and accurate commercial disclosures and undermine its own economic interest — in this case, by making 'every single pack of cigarettes in the country (a) mini billboard' for the government’s anti-smoking message.” The court also stated that the government had not presented evidence showing that the new warning labels would lower smoking rates.

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al. v. Food and Drug Administration, et al., No. 11-5332 (D.C. Cir.)