US: Tobacco Firms Win Some Relief Over Label Law

Tobacco manufacturers have won a partial victory over the new rules governing the packaging labels of their products in the US.

Imperial Brands, Reynolds American and Altria had taken the US FDA to court, challenging the scope of the latter’s authority to regulate tobacco products.  The lawsuit questioned FDA guidelines that stated tobacco firms could require the regulator’s approval before marketing any products with significant changes to the label – even including logo or colour. The manufacturers argued that the FDA was not correctly interpreting the 2009 Tobacco Control Act.

A District Judge in Washington, D.C., has sided with the manufacturers on cosmetic changes to labels, but said the FDA could still demand pre-approval for any change in quantity, which represents a modification as it “necessarily entails a change in the amount of constituent ingredients and additives”.

Spokespersons for Altria and Imperial said they were pleased with the ruling.  The FDA has so far declined to comment.