AHA, 7 other groups file lawsuit against the FDA for not enforcing tobacco rule

Eight medical organizations, antitobacco groups and three pediatricians filed a federal lawsuit on Oct. 4 against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They want the agency to enforce The Tobacco Control Act (TCA) and issue a final rule requiring graphic health warnings on cigarette packs and advertising.

The TCA became law in June 2009 and required the FDA to issue a final rule within 24 months, according to the lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S District Court of Massachusetts. Tobacco product manufacturers and sellers have since filed countersuits against the legislation.

The TCA required graphic warnings covering the top half of the front and back of cigarette packs and 20 percent of cigarette advertising, according to a news release from the American Heart Association (AHA).

The AHA, American Academy of Pediatrics, Massachusetts Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Cancer Society, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Lung Association, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and Truth Initiative filed the lawsuit. Pediatricians Ted Kremer, MD, Jonathan Winickoff, MD and Lynda Young, MD also are plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

The TCA provided the FDA with the authority to regulate the manufacture, distribution and marketing of tobacco products, restricts tobacco marketing and sales to youths and requires disclosures of ingredients in tobacco products.

“The FDA has been in violation [of the 2009 law] for more than four years,” the lawsuit states. “During that time, over three million Americans, the vast majority of them minors, have begun to smoke on a regular basis. Half of them will die prematurely as a result of tobacco-related disease. During the time FDA has been in violation of [the law], almost two million Americans have died of tobacco-related disease.”