Victory for Public Health: U.S. Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Tobacco Industry’s Challenge to Los Angeles County Law Ending Flavored Tobacco Sales
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 27, 2023
Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Supreme Court announced today that it will not hear R.J. Reynolds’ appeal of a lower court ruling upholding Los Angeles County’s law prohibiting the sale of flavored tobacco products. This decision is a tremendous victory for kids and public health. It allows Los Angeles County’s law to remain in effect, while also preserving the authority of states and localities across the country to enact similar lifesaving measures. R.J. Reynolds and other tobacco companies have desperately fought these laws so they can continue to target kids, Black Americans and other communities with flavored products, including flavored e-cigarettes, menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars.
This decision is a rejection of Reynolds’ argument that the Los Angeles County law and similar state and local laws are preempted by the federal Tobacco Control Act. In fact, the Tobacco Control Act includes explicit language preserving the authority of states and localities to regulate the sale of tobacco products within their borders. For this reason, no court has struck down a state or local restriction on the sale of flavored tobacco products as preempted by the Tobacco Control Act. These courts include the First, Second and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeal. There is simply no legal basis to deprive Los Angeles County, or any other locality or state, of the ability to protect their citizens against the flavored tobacco products that lure kids into a lifetime of nicotine addiction.
Today’s announcement follows the Supreme Court’s decision in December to deny Reynolds’ request for an emergency injunction to block California’s statewide law ending the sale of most flavored tobacco products.
Reynolds’ battle against these laws shows once again that the tobacco companies haven’t changed and are lying when they claim to care about anything other than their bottom line. R.J. Reynolds and other companies will stop at nothing in order to continue targeting children and vulnerable communities with flavored tobacco products. Policy makers at every level must stand up to the tobacco industry’s bullying and take action to protect kids and save lives.