Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Lorillard Tobacco Co. v. Reilly case brief

Lorillard Tobacco Co. v. Reilly case brief summary
533 U.S. 525 (2001)

Petitioners, tobacco product manufacturers and retailers, filed suit in Federal District Court challenging Massachusetts regulations governing the advertising and sale of tobacco products. The district court determined the regulations were valid. The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part. Petition for writ of certiorari was granted.


  • First, the court held that respondent attorney general's outdoor and point-of-sale advertising regulations targeting cigarettes were pre-empted by the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act (FCLAA), 15 U.S.C.S. § 1331 et seq. 
  • The FCLAA's pre-emption provision did not permit a distinction between concern about minors and cigarette advertising and the more general concern about smoking and health in cigarette advertising. 
  • Further, a distinction between state regulation of the location as opposed to content of cigarette advertising had no foundation in the text of the pre-emption provision. 
  • As to the First Amendment issues, the court found that the attorney general failed to show that the outdoor advertising regulations for smokeless tobacco and cigars were not more extensive than necessary to advance the state's interest in preventing underage tobacco use. 
  • Also, the point-of-sale advertising regulations failed both the third and fourth steps of the Central Hudson analysis. 
  • However, the regulation barring self-service displays for tobacco withstood First Amendment scrutiny, as those regulations were narrowly tailored to prevent access to tobacco products by minors.

Judgment was affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.

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