The United States Supreme Court decided on Monday not to halt a California legislation that prohibits the sale of flavoured tobacco. This decision paves the way for the ban to go into force the following week.
When the court decides on emergency petitions, as is customary, the short ruling that was issued did not include any explanations. There were no dissenting voices that came to light.
R.J. Reynolds, the company that makes Newport menthol cigarettes, had requested the justices to step in before the legislation is enacted on Wednesday, since it is scheduled to take effect on that day. The corporation, which was joined by many smaller ones, maintained that a federal statute, the Tobacco Control Act of 2009, enables states to regulate tobacco products but bans prohibiting them. This argument was supported by numerous smaller companies.
The attorneys representing Reynolds and a few other smaller firms argued in an emergency application that the government had the ability to “increase the minimum buying age, limit sales to specified times and places, and impose licencing regimes.” “However, one thing that they are not able to do is fully restrict the sale of such goods because they do not fulfil the approved tobacco product requirements of the state or the area,”
Officials from the state have replied by saying that the federal legislation is intended to safeguard the long-standing jurisdiction of state and municipal authorities to control tobacco goods and to prohibit the sale of tobacco products. According to what they wrote, both before and after the passage of the federal legislation, state and municipal governments had taken action against flavoured tobacco products and electronic cigarettes.
The interpretation of terminology in the federal legislation that is both interlocking and overlapping in its legislative provisions will determine whether or not the federal law supersedes the state law.
They went on to say that “In fact, in the 13 years since Congress approved” the legislation that was passed in 2009, “no court has agreed with the tobacco industry view that the statute pre-empts limits and bans on the sale of flavoured tobacco products.”
In March, Reynolds was also unsuccessful in a lawsuit over this topic that included a Los Angeles County ordinance that was comparable to the state statute. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco came to the conclusion, after a split decision among its three judges, that the 2009 statute did not supplant the ordinance..
In November, a federal judge who was examining a different challenge brought by the corporation to a state statute reached the conclusion that she was constrained by that precedent, and she declined to halt the implementation of the legislation.
The legislation was supposed to start being enforced at the beginning of the previous year, but it was put on hold while voters deliberated whether or not to hold a referendum opposing it. Despite the fact that the tobacco industry spent tens of millions of dollars in support of the proposal, in November, 63 percent of people in the state voted in favour of the legislation.
In the brief that they submitted to the Supreme Court, state authorities pleaded with the justices not to postpone the legislation for any longer. According to what was written, “the unsuccessful referendum campaign has already delayed the implementation” of the law for nearly two years, which “has allowed children and teenagers across the state to be initiated into the dangerous habit of tobacco use via flavoured tobacco products throughout that period.”
The attorneys for the plaintiffs stated in their brief that lifting the prohibition on the sale of menthol cigarettes “may potentially create severe detrimental implications for communities of colour, especially African Americans.” Because African American smokers, in particular, have been shown to have a disproportionately high preference for menthol cigarettes, the state of California’s proposed ban would disproportionately hurt them, including by increasing the likelihood that they would have negative interactions with law enforcement.
The argument irritated Valerie Yerger, a health policy expert at the University of California, San Francisco and a founding member of the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council.
Ms. Yerger stated that “when we look at the need to protect African Americans from the predatory exploitation of the tobacco industry, we need to look at the fact that a menthol ban will protect them.” “When we look at the need to protect African Americans from the predatory exploitation of the tobacco industry,” “Not only will it extend people’s lives by a number of years, but it will also improve the quality of their lives.”
Officials from the state directed the justices’ attention to a letter sent to the Food and Drug Administration in April by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
The Department of Justice made public the terms of a deal last week requiring 200,000 merchants to prominently post signs in their establishments warning customers about the dangers of smoking cigarettes. The order will become effective in July, and during that time, merchants will have three months to display the signage. The conditions of a racketeering case launched by the United States government in 1999 against cigarette businesses, including Reynolds, have been resolved as part of this deal.
Also over the last week, a judge from a federal court in Texas agreed with tobacco firms and blocked an order from the Food and Drug Administration to display huge graphic warnings about the dangers of smoking on individual cigarette cartons.