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Commonwealth Brands, Inc. vs. U.S.: Legal Judgment on Marketing Restrictions in the New Federal Tobacco Law
Joseph H. McKinley Jr. (au)
The opinion and order of U.S. District Judge Joseph H. McKinley Jr., U.S. District Court, Western District of Kentucky, Bowling Green Division, which overturns two of the marketing restrictions in the new federal tobacco law. Several tobacco makers sued in August 2009 to block the restrictions. Judge McKinley agreed that the ban on color and graphics in labels and advertising that children might see intruded too broadly on commercial free speech. He noted that, instead, Congress could have exempted certain types of color and graphic images. Judge McKinley did uphold the authority of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to restrict tobacco marketing, as well as a specific provision which requires new, graphic warning labels to cover the top half of cigarette packages. In fact, he upheld most of the new marketing restrictions, including a ban on tobacco companies sponsoring athletic, social and cultural events or offering free samples or branded merchandise. Lawyers on both sides affirmed that this case will probably be appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and eventually to the Supreme Court.
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