Tobacco Companies’ Lawsuit Rejected
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit by two tobacco companies that claimed California anti-smoking advertisements violated 1st Amendment rights of the companies, Reuters/Los Angeles Times reports.
In rejecting the lawsuit, the court upheld a previous ruling by a federal appeals court.
The companies -- R.J. Reynolds and Lorillard Tobacco -- claimed that free-speech rights prohibited the government from imposing a tax that applied "solely to a discrete, disfavored group" and then using the money to fund government speech criticizing the same group, according to Reuters/Times (Reuters/Los Angeles Times, 2/22).
California voters in 1988 approved Proposition 99, which allocates 25 cents of the 87-cent per pack tax to smoking education and prevention programs in the state. Five cents per pack, or about $25 million annually, is used for anti-smoking television ads.
The court handed down the decision without comment or dissent (McIntosh, Sacramento Bee, 2/22).