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Justices turn down smokers' lawsuit

By The Associated Press
03.18.08

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court declined yesterday to consider a lawsuit accusing tobacco companies of turning minors into smokers by targeting them with cigarette advertising.

The California Supreme Court had ruled against the smokers last August, saying a federal law on cigarette advertising and the companies' First Amendment rights to commercial speech allowed the marketing campaigns.

The California case is Daniels v. Philip Morris USA Inc., 07-740.

At issue is whether the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act pre-empts California law. The California high court ruled that it does. The federal law confirms the authority of the Federal Trade Commission to regulate unfair or deceptive practices in cigarette advertising.

The smokers sued under California law barring unfair competition. The competition is alleged to be unfair in this case because competing tobacco companies that respect state law operate at a disadvantage.

Urging the Supreme Court to turn down the case, the tobacco companies said the federal law pre-empted any state law prohibition on cigarette ads if the prohibition is based on smoking and health.

In January, the Court agreed to decide another tobacco case on whether the federal law trumps state law. In that case, Maine smokers are suing tobacco companies for allegedly deceptive advertising of "light" cigarettes.


Previous
Calif. high court: Smokers can't sue over cigarette ads
Tobacco users in class-action lawsuit had claimed they took up habit as minors because of companies' marketing. 08.03.07

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Justices turn away tobacco companies' appeal about ads

Reynolds American, Lorillard claimed California's tough anti-smoking ads smeared their reputations. 02.21.06

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D.C. Circuit stays federal judge's decision that companies violated racketeering laws; order allows ad campaigns to continue that had been ruled misleading. 11.01.06

States sue R.J. Reynolds over ad in Rolling Stone
At least nine attorneys general say ads for Camel music campaign, which were coupled with magazine-produced illustrations, violate tobacco industry's promise not to use cartoons to sell cigarettes. 12.05.07

Justices allow lawsuits over 'light' cigarettes
In 5-4 split, high court rules smokers may use state consumer-protection laws to sue cigarette tobacco industry for way it promotes 'light' and 'low tar' brands. 12.15.08

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