HomeWashington Letter2016 ▶ Federal Court of Appeals Decides Against Big Tobacco
Federal Court of Appeals Decides Against Big Tobacco

January 2016

Today, the D.C. District Court of Appeals issued a ruling that rejected the tobacco industry suit to block an FDA advisory panel report on health effects of menthol tobacco products and remove three members from the FDA Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Panel (TPSAC).  In issuing the rule, the appeals court, by a vote of 3-0, overturned a lower court decision.  The appeals court found that the tobacco industry had no standing to bring the suit and dismissed the harms claimed by the tobacco industry as being speculative and unsupported by fact.  The court also overturned the lower court's order to remove ATS member Jonathan Samet, MD and two other members of the TPSAC panel for apparent conflicts of interest due to their expertize on the health effects of tobacco and smoking cessation.

This decision is an important victory for tobacco control and allows the FDA to use the TPSAC report on menthol tobacco products as a basis for future regulation of tobacco products. Had the lower court decision been allowed to stand, it would have been a significant barrier that would have hampered the FDA's ability to issue effective regulation of menthol tobacco products and would have given the tobacco industry an effective legal tool to harass public health experts who serve on federal advisory committees.

The ATS and the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids submitted an amicus brief in the case explaining why we believe the lower court erred in its findings and urging the DC District Court of Appeals to overturn the decision.

Last Reviewed: October 2017