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The brief was written by Professor David Vladeck, Georgetown University Law Center on behalf of the Tobacco Control Legal Consortium, and was joined by AARP and Public Justice. The Court upheld the rightof smokers to sue tobacco manufacturers for deceptive health claims, rejecting industry arguments that the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act prevents consumers and state officials from suing manufacturers for fraudulent health claims. Supreme Court ruling, the tobacco companies continued to fight these claims. In 2015, San Francisco enacted an ordinance requiring that signs advertising sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) include a label, covering 20 percent of the sign, that reads “WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay.This decision allowed other “light” cigarette fraud cases to be brought without risk of being preempted by federal law. Whether San Francisco's Ordinance requiring a warning label on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) violates the First Amendment and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. This is a message from the City and County of San Francisco.” This was the nation’s first ordinance requiring such warnings.
A well-written amicus brief can have a significant impact on judicial decision-making. Among the national organizations joining our briefs have been the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, the American Medical Association, the National Association of County and City Health Officials, the National Association of Local Boards of Health, Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, and the Campaign for Tobacco-free Kids.
Cases are occasionally decided on grounds suggested by an amicus, decisions may rely on information or factual analysis provided only by an amicus, and holdings may be narrower or broader than parties have urged because of a persuasive amicus brief. Many state associations have joined our briefs as well, such as the Washington State Medical Association, the Kentucky Medical Association, the Montana Hospital Association, the Montana Public Health Association, the League of California Cities, and the California State Association of Counties.
The nation’s three largest tobacco companies – Philip Morris, Lorillard and R. Reynolds – and the New York State Association of Convenience Stores sued the City’s health department, claiming the rule violated the First Amendment rights of retailers who disagreed with the message, and breached the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act, which requires that only the federal government can regulate cigarette advertising and promotion.
On August 20, 2010, the American Legacy Foundation and twenty-four other nonprofit health organizations and advocacy groups, including the Tobacco Control Legal Consortium, filed an amicus brief in support of the New York City Board of Health.
Drafting amicus briefs is a large undertaking, which requires weeks of work negotiating involvement, coordinating potential participants, researching issues, recruiting authors, and editing drafts. Whether Congress’s intent in enacting the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act’s preemption provision was to protect tobacco companies from “diverse, nonuniform, and confusing cigarette labeling and advertising regulations,” rather than to bar public health messaging that does not place any requirements on tobacco companies.