Three tobacco giants drop lawsuit over US labelling rules

New York, June 3 (IANS/EFE) Three large US tobacco companies have withdrawn their lawsuit against the US government after the authorities announced their decision to review the new labelling regulations.

The Big Three, made up of the Altria Group Inc. (Marlboro), Reynolds American Inc. (Camel) and Lorillard Inc. (Newport), filed suit last April against the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) accusing that agency of exceeding its authority with the degree of control it was attempting to impose on label content and changes.

Among other measures, the FDA announced in March that to make label changes on tobacco products, tobacco companies must first submit their proposals to the authorities in order to obtain prior approval.

Since the tobacco industry considered that measure a violation of commercial speech rights under the First Amendment of the Constitution, it took the government to court.

As a consequence, the FDA said last week that it would review the new regulations before putting them into practice, after which the three tobacco companies chose to drop their suit, according to the daily Wall Street Journal.

“There is no need to move forward with the lawsuit at this time,” Altria spokesman Brian May said after the suit was withdrawn at a federal court in Washington DC on Tuesday.

US President Barack Obama enacted a law in 2009 giving the government control over the production, sale and advertising of tobacco in an attempt to reduce the number of deaths related to smoking.

Since then, the FDA has passed measures to regulate consumption of cigarettes and chewing tobacco, and is still working on the regulation of other products like electronic cigarettes and vaporisers.

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