Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act

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Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act
Great Seal of the United States
Long titleTo protect the public health by providing the Food and Drug Administration with certain authority to regulate tobacco products, to amend title 5, United States Code, to make certain modifications in the Thrift Savings Plan, the Civil Service Retirement System, and the Federal Employees’ Retirement System, and for other purposes.
NicknamesTobacco Control Act
Enacted bythe 111th United States Congress
EffectiveJune 22, 2009
Public lawPub. L. 111–31 (text) (PDF)
Statutes at Large123 Stat. 1776–1858
Acts amendedFederal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act
Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act
Titles amendedTitle 21 USC 301: Food and Drugs
Legislative history

The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, (Pub. L. 111–31 (text) (PDF), H.R. 1256) is a federal statute in the United States that was signed into law by President Barack Obama on June 22, 2009. The Act gives the Food and Drug Administration the power to regulate the tobacco industry. A signature element of the law imposes new warnings and labels on tobacco packaging and their advertisements, with the goal of discouraging minors and young adults from smoking. The Act also bans flavored cigarettes, places limits on the advertising of tobacco products to minors and requires tobacco companies to seek FDA approval for new tobacco products.

Origins and proposal[edit]

On March 21, 2000, the Supreme Court in FDA v. Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., in a 5–4 decision, held that the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, particularly when considering "Congress’ subsequent tobacco-specific legislation," that Congress had not given the FDA the authority to regulate tobacco products as customarily marketed.[1] Thus the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act was introduced to respond to the decision, which had held that the Clinton administration's FDA had "overreached" its congressionally delegated authority, thus giving the FDA the authority the Court determined it had lacked.[2]

Legislative history[edit]

The bill passed the United States House of Representatives on April 2, 2009, by a vote of 298 to 112.[3] The House bill had 178 cosponsors[4] and the companion legislation in the Senate, S. 982 had 57 cosponsors.[5] On May 20, 2009, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions ordered the Senate bill to be reported favorably with amendments on a 15-8 vote.[6]

The Capitol Hill newspaper The Hill reported on May 25, 2009, that Senate Majority Leader Reid planned to move on the bill during the month of June 2009. Senators Burr and Hagan of North Carolina were proposing alternative legislation.[6]

On June 2, the Senate voted 84-11 to proceed to consideration of the House bill.[7] On June 8, the Senate voted 61-30 on cloture on amendments to the Senate bill. The "Senate bill requires that cigarette health warning labels be large enough to make up 50 percent of the front and rear panels of the package and that the word “warning” appear in capital letters."[8] On June 11, the Senate passed H.R. 1256 by a vote of 79-17, with 3 Senators not voting.[9] Passage of the legislation came a week later than was originally scheduled.[10] The Senate's version of the bill was approved by the House on June 12, by a bipartisan vote of 307-97.[11]

Media accounts stated that the opposition in the Senate was largely from tobacco farming states, particularly Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, with the only Democrat in opposition being Kay Hagan, from North Carolina. Notable exceptions were Virginia Senators Jim Webb and Mark Warner who supported the measure, despite the state's connection to the tobacco industry.[12]

The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act was signed into law on June 22, 2009, by President Barack Obama.


  • Creates the Center for Tobacco Products, a tobacco control center within the FDA and gives the FDA authority to regulate the content, marketing and sale of tobacco products.
  • Requires tobacco companies and importers to reveal all product ingredients and seek FDA approval for any new tobacco products (see premarket tobacco application).
  • Allows the FDA to change tobacco product content.
    • The ban on flavoring applies to any product meeting the definition of a "cigarette" according to section 3(1) of the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act. This includes any tobacco that comes rolled in paper or a non-tobacco substance, and added to this definition in the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act is any tobacco with the purpose to be rolled such as rolling tobacco.
  • Calls for new rules to prevent sales except through direct, face-to-face exchanges between a retailer and a consumer.
  • Limits advertising that could attract young smokers.
  • Requires cigarette warning labels to cover 50 percent of the front and rear of each pack, with the word warning in capital letters.
  • Requires FDA approval for the use of expressions such as "light, "mild" or "low" that give the impression that a particular tobacco product poses less of a health risk (see modified risk tobacco product).[13]

The bill makes no provisions that ban the import of the banned items for personal consumption, only for "sale or distribution." (Division A Title II Section 201) [14]

Reception and impact[edit]

Passing of the law was supported by the American Cancer Society, whose CEO said in a press release that "[t]his bill forces Big Tobacco to disclose the poisons in its products and has the power to finally break the dangerous chain of addiction for generations to come."[15] The ACS press release also noted that the legislation would "require cigarette companies to disclose all ingredients used in cigarettes and to stop using words like 'light' and 'ultra-light' to give the impression that some tobacco products have a lower health risk." The legislation also garnered support from the American Heart Association, whose CEO said that the bill "provides a tremendous opportunity to finally hold tobacco companies accountable and restrict efforts to addict more children and adults."[16]

The law was criticized by some as ineffectual, with community health sciences professor Michael Siegel stating that it "creates the appearance of regulation without allowing actual regulation." Critics argue that without the authority to eliminate nicotine completely, the reduction of nicotine levels in cigarettes may result in compensation by existing smokers, increasing their cigarette smoke inhalation to consume a level of nicotine which will satisfy their cravings.[17] The Tobacco Control Act has been called "the Marlboro Protection Act" because it grandfathered in tobacco products marketed before 2007, while erecting nearly impassable financial and regulatory barriers for the introduction of competing products to the US market.[18] These marketing restrictions enacted by the law make it more difficult to promote safer smokeless alternatives to cigarettes. The restrictions have been disputed on the grounds of free speech, with some stating that the legislation violates the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.[19]

The bill bans flavored cigarettes, including cloves, cinnamon, candy, and fruit flavors, with a special exception for menthol cigarettes. Because Philip Morris is the largest producer of cigarettes in the United States and the law would have the effect of eliminating potential competition, the law has been nicknamed the Marlboro Monopoly Act of 2009.[20] Philip Morris strongly supports FDA regulation.[21][22] The exemption was reportedly influenced by the Congressional Black Caucus.[17][19] The Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee provisioned under the bill is to submit a recommendation on menthol cigarettes to the United States Secretary of Health and Human Services no later than one year after its establishment.

Lawsuits and constitutionality[edit]

On August 31, 2009, Commonwealth Brands filed suit (Commonwealth Brands, Inc. v. United States) against the United States and the Food and Drug Administration. Alleging that the advertising restrictions embodied in the FSPTCA unconstitutionally infringe on the First Amendment. These provisions include: restricting advertising to black-and-white text; restricting tobacco companies from advertising "light" cigarettes; prohibiting advertising within 1,000 feet of areas where children congregate; banning event sponsorship by tobacco companies; and prohibiting free sample distribution of cigarettes.[23]

In June 2011, the FDA released nine new warning signs containing both graphic text and images that should be included on all cigarette packaging and advertisement by September 2012.[24]

The textual warnings state:[25][a]

WARNING: Cigarettes are addictive.
WARNING: Tobacco smoke can harm your children.
WARNING: Cigarettes cause fatal lung disease.
WARNING: Cigarettes cause cancer.
WARNING: Cigarettes cause strokes and heart disease.
WARNING: Smoking during pregnancy can harm your baby.
WARNING: Smoking can kill you.
WARNING: Tobacco smoke causes fatal lung disease in nonsmokers.
WARNING: Quitting smoking now greatly reduces serious risks to your health.

Each warning is to be paired with one of the following colored images:[27] man exhaling cigarette smoke through a tracheotomy hole in his throat; plume of cigarette smoke enveloping an infant receiving a kiss from his or her mother; pair of diseased lungs next to a pair of healthy lungs; diseased mouth afflicted with what appears to be cancerous lesions; man breathing into an oxygen mask; bare-chested male cadaver lying on a table, and featuring what appears to be post-autopsy chest staples down the middle of his torso; woman weeping uncontrollably; man wearing a T-shirt that features a "no smoking" symbol and the words "I Quit."[a]

Four tobacco companies responded to the mandate by filing a legal challenge in August:

The constitutionality of the provision requiring graphic warnings on cigarette packs has been questioned with tobacco companies and others saying that the new warnings violated the first amendment by going beyond being informational and require manufactures of a legal product to "engage in anti-smoking advocacy" on the government's behalf.[30] R.J. Reynolds, Lorillard, Liggett Group and Commonwealth Brands, filed a lawsuit against the FDA in August 2011. Altria did not take any legal action. On November 7, 2011, US district judge Richard Leon granted a temporary injunction postponing the implementation of the new warnings, ruling that "It is abundantly clear from viewing these images that the emotional response they were crafted to induce is calculated to provoke the viewer to quit, or never to start smoking - an objective wholly apart from disseminating purely factual and uncontroversial information."[31] The Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld the District Court's opinion that the labels were unconstitutional, analyzing the labels under the Central Hudson standard.[32] Before the D.C. Circuit issued its ruling, a divided panel for the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the constitutionality of the Act in the case of Discount Tobacco City & Lottery v. FDA.[33] On April 22, 2013, the Supreme Court declined review of the 6th Circuit's decision.[34]

International litigation[edit]

On 12 April 2010, Indonesia filed a formal complaint with the World Trade Organization stating the ban on kreteks (clove cigarettes) in America amounts to discrimination because menthol cigarettes are exempt from the new regulation. Trade Ministry Director General of International Trade Gusmardi Bustami has stated that the Indonesian government has asked the WTO panel to review US violations on trade regulations, including the General Agreement on Tariff and Trade (GATT) 1994, Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) and Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Agreement. The TBT Agreement is of special importance as it defines clove cigarettes and menthol cigarettes as "like products." Claims of discrimination are enhanced when noting that 99% of kreteks were imported from countries other than the United States (chiefly Indonesia), while menthol cigarettes are produced almost entirely by American tobacco manufacturers.[35] Indonesia's case is further strengthened by comparing the number of young kretek smokers in America with the number of young menthol cigarette smokers. According to US health reports, 43% of young smokers smoke menthol cigarettes, which accounts for nearly 25% of the total cigarette consumption in the United States. Young smokers habituated to kreteks, however, account for less than 1% of cigarette consumption in the US, and <1% of the total cigarettes sold in the US. On 4 April 2012, the WTO ruled in favor of Indonesia's claim, though it is unclear how this will affect U.S. law.[36]

The WTO was asked to bring this to the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) for resolution in 2013 after the US failed to adhere to the findings scheduled to be implemented by the end of July 2012. They sought damages of reportedly $55 million claiming the US had not taken measures to meet compliance. The matter was moved to arbitration in line with Article 22.6 of the Dispute Settlement Understanding, the WTO agreement governing trade disputes. In June 2013 the two parties jointly asked the arbitrators to suspend circulation of this decision to the public and asked to keep the award confidential. Diplomatic meetings followed and in exchange for ending the controversy created by the ban of clove cigarettes the US agreed to refrain from submitting any WTO challenges to Indonesia's controversial mineral export restrictions. A Generalized System of Preferendes (GSP) scheme was pledged by the US which granted additional "facilities" that exceeded certain value limitations for the following five years.[37]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b As of March 2020, these FDA warnings and images have been superseded by a new set of 11 warnings which focus on serious health risks that are less known by the public, each with an accompanying image depicting the negative consequences of smoking.[26]


  1. ^ FDA v. Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., 529 U.S. 120 (2000).
  2. ^ Rushing, J. Taylor (11 June 2009). "Tobacco bill clears Senate by wide margin". The Hill. Retrieved 19 October 2018.
  3. ^ Final Vote Results for Roll Call 187 from
  4. ^ Henry, Waxman (22 June 2009). "Cosponsors - H.R.1256 - 111th Congress (2009-2010): Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act". Archived from the original on 3 July 2016. Retrieved 19 October 2018.
  5. ^ Edward, Kennedy (20 May 2009). "Cosponsors - S.982 - 111th Congress (2009-2010): Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act". Archived from the original on 5 July 2016. Retrieved 19 October 2018.
  6. ^ a b Rushing, J. Taylor (2009-05-25). "Tobacco regulation on track for June".
  7. ^ "On the Cloture Motion (Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Motion to Proceed to H.R. 1256)".
  8. ^ Rogers, David (June 8, 2009). "Senate vote a sea change for tobacco". Politico.
  9. ^ "U.S. Senate".
  10. ^ "Senate Clears Tobacco Regulation Bill". Roll Call. 11 June 2009.
  11. ^ Final Vote Results for Roll Call 335 from
  12. ^ "Senate passes bill increasing FDA power to regulate tobacco". CNN Political Ticker: Blog Archive. June 11, 2009.
  13. ^ Sullivan, Todd (8 April 2008). "FDA Tobacco Bill Prevents Ban, Forces Them to Endorse It".
  14. ^ "Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (2009 - H.R. 1256)".
  15. ^ "ACS :: House Votes to Grant FDA Control of Tobacco Regulation".
  16. ^ Abrams, Jim. "No smoking: Historic vote could bring new limits". Yahoo News. Associated Press. Archived from the original on 14 June 2009. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  17. ^ a b Siegel, Michael (2009-06-03). "Tobacco regulations are no regulations at all". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2016-12-26. Retrieved 2009-06-15.
  18. ^ Nelson, Steven (3 December 2014). "House Leaders Rush to Defend E-Cigarettes From Possible FDA Bans". US News. Retrieved 3 December 2014.
  19. ^ a b "Washington's Marlboro Men". The Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company (published 2009-06-13). 2009. pp. A12. ISSN 0099-9660. OCLC 4299067. Retrieved 2009-06-16.
  20. ^ Smalera, Paul (2009-06-08). "Cool, Refreshing Legislation for Philip Morris: Why it's politically impossible to ban menthol cigarettes, even if they're the most addictive". The Big Money. Archived from the original on June 16, 2009.
  21. ^ O'Connell, Vanessa; Mullins, Brody (2007-01-25). "Capitol Hill Power Shift Could Aid Philip Morris". Wall Street Journal.
  22. ^ Wilson, Duff (2009-03-31). "Philip Morris's Support Casts Shadow Over a Bill to Limit Tobacco". New York Times.
  23. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-04-07. Retrieved 2011-11-21.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  24. ^ "Obama Chides Tobacco Cos. for Fighting Warning Labels". Convenience Store News. 17 November 2011. Retrieved 19 October 2018.
  25. ^ Act Section 201(a) (amending 15 U.S.C. Section 1333(a)(1).
  26. ^ "FDA requires new health warnings for cigarette packages and advertisements". Food and Drug Administration. 17 March 2020. Retrieved 28 October 2020.
  27. ^ R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, Lorillard Tobacco Company, Commonwealth Brands, Inc., Liggett Group LLC, and Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company, Inc., v. United States Food and Drug Administration, No. 11-1482 (United States District Court for the District of Columbia November 7, 2011).
  28. ^ [1][dead link]
  29. ^ "Title improperly recorded prior to becoming a deadlink". Archived from the original on 10 September 2011. Retrieved 19 October 2018.
  30. ^ "U.S. judge blocks graphic cigarette warnings". Reuters. November 8, 2011.
  31. ^ Wilson, Duff (7 November 2011). "Court Blocks Graphic Labels on Cigarette Packs". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 October 2018.
  32. ^ Discount Tobacco City & Lottery, Inc.; Lorillard Tobacco Company; National Tobacco Company, L.P.; R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company; Commonwealth Brands, Inc.; American Snuff Company, LLC, fka Conwood Company, LLC v. United States of America; United States Food & Drug Administration, Nos. 10-5234/5235 (United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit March 19, 2012).
  33. ^ R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, et al. v. United States Food & Drug Administration, et al., No. 12-5063 (United States Court of Appeals for The Sixth Circuit August 24, 2012).
  34. ^ Baker, Sam (22 April 2013). "The Hill". Retrieved 23 April 2013.
  35. ^ "WTO agrees to set up panel to rule on US clove cigarette ban". The Jakarta Post. 21 July 2010. Retrieved 8 February 2013.
  36. ^ Miles, Tom; Doug Palmer (4 April 2012). "WTO dents U.S. ban on clove cigarettes". Reuters. Retrieved 8 February 2013.
  37. ^ "Indonesia Announces Deal with US on Clove Cigarettes Trade Dispute | International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development". Archived from the original on 2020-02-21. Retrieved 2020-02-21.

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