Anti-Tobacco Advertising Case Goes to Court Today
A lawsuit filed by tobacco companies R.J. Reynolds and
Lorillard Tobacco seeking an injunction against state-produced anti-tobacco advertisements that they claim violate their constitutional rights begins today in federal court in Sacramento, the AP/Contra Costa Times reports (Brice, AP/Contra Costa Times, 6/11). The ads, produced by the Department of Health Services, are funded with a 25-cent-per-pack state tax on cigarettes approved by California voters in 1988 as part of Proposition 99, which established the Cigarette and Tobacco Products Surtax Fund. The lawsuit alleges that the state has violated the right that tobacco companies have to a fair trial because the ads could prompt future juries to believe that the "tobacco industry is a very powerful, deceptive and dangerous enemy of the public's health." In addition, the lawsuit alleges that California has denied tobacco companies their right to due process because the state does not allow the companies to question the validity of the ads (California Healthline, 6/9). The Office of the Attorney General today will ask a federal judge to dismiss the case, Tom Dresslar, a spokesperson for the office, said. The judge could issue a preliminary injunction barring the state from running the ads until the case goes to trial, the AP/Times reports (AP/Contra Costa Times, 6/11). Joe Escher, an attorney for R.J. Reynolds, and Daniel Zingale, cabinet secretary for Gov. Gray Davis (D), discussed the suit yesterday on CNN's "American Morning" (Kagan, "American Morning," CNN, 6/10). A full transcript of the segment is available online.