Cases & Deals

R.J. Reynolds successfully challenges constitutionality of FDA's graphic warnings rule

Client(s) R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company

On December 7, 2022, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas ruled--in favor of Jones Day clients that include R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company--that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's regulation requiring graphic cigarette warning labels is unconstitutional. The rule would have required large graphic warnings with disturbing images to appear on cigarette packages and advertising.

The district court agreed with Reynolds' arguments that the rule, which attempted to make the most significant change to cigarette labels in 35 years, violates the First Amendment's prohibition on compelled speech. Among other things, the court concluded that FDA did not show that it was necessary to require large, graphic warnings that consume half of a cigarette pack's face. Instead of requiring cigarette manufacturers to convey FDA's anti-smoking message with large, "provocative," and ambiguous images, the court held that "the government may take advantage of other strategies such as increasing funding for anti-smoking advertisements in various forms of media, increasing funding for speakers and school instruction, and increasing anti-smoking resources in the government's own communications."

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al. v. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, et al., No. 6-20-cv-176 (E.D. Tex.)