Small Cigarette Brands Accuse FDA of Passing Regulation that Favors Big Three

Thursday, April 29, 2010
Marlboro clothing line

Cigarette companies soon will no longer be able to market tobacco products that happen to share the same name as non-tobacco brands owned by other companies, under rules adopted by the Food and Drug Administration

(FDA). But this restriction is allegedly affecting smaller tobacco companies in an unfair manner, prompting them to sue the FDA.
Renegade Tobacco, Alternative Brands, and Seneca-Cayuga Tobacco have filed a lawsuit against the FDA arguing that they risk going out of business if they can’t market their products just because someone else uses the same brand name for their goods. For instance, Renegade Tobacco shares the “Tucson” name with carmaker Hyundai.
The plaintiffs add that their larger rivals, aka Big Tobacco, aren’t impacted by the FDA regulation because they own their brand names outright, such as Marlboro, Newprot and Camel, or thanks to a grandfather clause granting immunity for brand names that were in effect on or before January 1, 1995. The Big Three, Philip Morris, Reynolds American and Lorillard, currently account for 89.5% of the cigarette market in the United States.
The new regulation will go into effect on June 22, unless the small tobacco companies are successful in court.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
FDA Favors Big Tobacco, Small Firms Say (by Ryan Abbott, Courthouse News Service)
Renegade Tobacco et al. v. FDA (U.S. District Court, Eastern Virginia) (pdf)


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