California voters have approved Senate Bill 793, which prohibits tobacco retailers from selling flavored tobacco products or tobacco product flavor enhancers. A lawsuit has been filed in federal court claiming that it is unconstitutional.

On November 8, 2022, California voters said “yes” to Proposition 31, a referendum on a 2020 law that would prohibit the retail sale of certain flavored tobacco products. The constitutionality of the referenced law, Senate Bill 793 (“SB793”), is at issue in a case filed the next day in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al. v. Bonta, et al., No. 3:22-cv-01755 (S.D. Cal.); however, the plaintiffs’ success in that case will likely depend on the development of favorable precedents in other cases pending before appellate courts.

Continue Reading California Voters Approve Flavored Tobacco Ban in Referendum; Is It Unconstitutional?

On November 3, Judge Gary L. Sharpe of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York issued a preliminary injunction, blocking cannabis regulators from issuing marijuana retail licenses for five geographic regions across the state, while a constitutional challenge to the program proceeds.

Continue Reading Federal Judge Finds NY Cannabis Residency Rules Likely Unconstitutional and Discriminatory Against Out-of-State Applicants

Over the past few years, at least five states and several hundred localities have passed, or attempted to pass, laws banning flavored tobacco products. There have been a number of challenges to those laws—few of which have been successful. In a recent ruling, the Washington County Circuit Court handed a win to businesses challenging a local ordinance (the Ordinance) seeking to impose a ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products.

Continue Reading Oregon Court Sides with Businesses Challenging Local Flavor Ban Ordinance

Litigation challenging FDA’s cursory denial of thousands of premarket tobacco product applications (PMTAs) continues. We have previously written about electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS) manufacturers’ claims that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) acted arbitrarily and capriciously by, among other things, denying their PMTAs without fully considering all elements of the applications. Numerous appeals of PMTA denials are pending before several different federal appellate courts, and decisions continue to trickle in.
Continue Reading Eleventh Circuit Sets Aside FDA Marketing Denial Orders Issued to Bidi Vapor and Others

On July 28, the Iowa attorney general’s office filed suit against Philip Morris, USA, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., and 16 other tobacco companies, accusing them of defrauding Iowa of over $133 million by allegedly engaging in bad faith disputes over amounts due under the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA).

Tobacco company signatories to the MSA, also known as participating manufacturers (PMs), must pay the settling states their portion of $9 billion dollars on an annual basis. These payments are subject to a handful of various upward and downward adjustments, one of which is known as the “Non-Participating Manufacturer Adjustment” or “NPM Adjustment.” The NPM Adjustment may reduce the amount of money a state is due from the PMs in a given year if the state did not enact and “diligently enforce” an “escrow statute,” requiring non-participating manufacturers (NPMs) to place money in proportion to their sales made into that state into an escrow account.
Continue Reading Iowa Attorney General Brings Suit Against Participating Manufacturers to the Master Settlement Agreement

On July 5, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the decision of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to “deem” premium cigars subject to the same federal law as other tobacco products like cigarettes was “arbitrary and capricious.” In reaching this conclusion, Judge Amit Mehta relied heavily on industry comments regarding the relative public health risks and negligible youth use of premium cigars, as well as related studies — which the court said FDA either ignored or glossed over. The opinion underscores the importance of the role of public comments in agency rulemaking.
Continue Reading Industry Comments Loom Large in DC Court, Finding FDA Regulation of Premium Cigars “Arbitrary and Capricious”

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has denied the Plaintiffs’/Appellants’ petition for a rehearing en banc following a divided panel’s holding that the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act neither expressly nor impliedly preempts Los Angeles County’s ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products.

On May 11, 2022, a divided panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit denied a petition for rehearing en banc filed by Plaintiffs/Appellants R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, Inc., American Snuff Co., and Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co. (together, the “Plaintiffs/Appellants”) in R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al. v. Los Angeles County, et al., No. 20-55930.  As discussed more fully by Troutman Pepper in Vapor Voice, the same panel earlier held in a split 2-1 decision that Los Angeles County’s flavored tobacco ban is not preempted by the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, Pub. L. No. 111-31, 123 Stat. 1776 (June 22, 2009) (the “TCA”).
Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Denies Petition for Rehearing en Banc in Appeal over Preemption of Los Angeles County’s Flavored Tobacco Ban

Retailers should take note that Philip Morris USA Inc., Altria Group, Inc, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company have reached an agreement with the United States Department of Justice on warnings to be placed in retail stores carrying the manufacturers’ cigarettes to warn consumers about the health effects of tobacco. These are referred to as “corrective-statement signs” because they are meant as “corrections” to the manufacturers’ alleged deliberate misleading of consumers as to the dangers of smoking from the 1950s until the early 2000s.
Continue Reading Cigarette Companies and Federal Government Reach Agreement on Warnings to be Displayed in Retail Stores

Under Judge Grimm’s Revised Remedial Order, FDA must submit quarterly status reports regarding its review of pending PMTAs for certain popular vapor products.

On April 15, 2022, Judge Paul W. Grimm of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland ordered  FDA to submit status reports to the Court and to the Plaintiffs in the case every ninety days, beginning on April 29th.
Continue Reading Deeming Regulations Litigation Update—Federal Court Exercises Even More Oversight over FDA’s PMTA Review

In a 2-1 decision, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act neither expressly nor impliedly preempts Los Angeles County’s ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products.

In a Vapor Voice posting on April 2, 2022, the Troutman Pepper Tobacco