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Supreme Court declines to hear tobacco law challenge

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Supreme Court declined yesterday to hear a tobacco industry challenge to a federal law that expanded restrictions on the advertising and marketing of cigarettes.

The provisions of the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act under attack included one requiring the display of a large health warning on packaging and another banning the sponsorship of public events.

The law also requires that before a product can be marketed, the manufacturer must prove to the Food and Drug Administration that it is less dangerous than other tobacco products. That is aimed at marketing terms such as "light" and "mild." Challenging the provisions were companies owned in part or in full by Reynolds American Inc., British American Tobacco PLC, Imperial Tobacco Group PLC and Lorillard Inc.

The companies claimed the law violates the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of speech.

The Obama administration noted in court papers that the law was specifically drafted to battle a recognized public health problem. -- Reuters

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