533 U.S. 525 (2001), 00-596, Lorillard Tobacco Co. v. Reilly

Docket Nº:Case No. 00-596
Citation:533 U.S. 525, 121 S.Ct. 2404, 150 L.Ed.2d 532, 69 U.S.L.W. 4581, 69 U.S.L.W. 4582
Case Date:June 28, 2001
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 525

533 U.S. 525 (2001)

121 S.Ct. 2404, 150 L.Ed.2d 532, 69 U.S.L.W. 4581, 69 U.S.L.W. 4582




Case No. 00-596

United States Supreme Court

June 28, 2001[*]

Argued April 25, 2001



After the Attorney General of Massachusetts (Attorney General) promulgated comprehensive regulations governing the advertising and sale of cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, and cigars, petitioners, a group of tobacco manufacturers and retailers, filed this suit asserting, among other things, the Supremacy Clause claim that the cigarette advertising regulations are pre-empted by the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act (FCLAA), which prescribes mandatory health warnings for cigarette packaging and advertising, 15 U.S.C. §1333, and pre-empts similar state regulations, § 1334(b); and a claim that the regulations violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the Federal Constitution. In large measure, the District Court upheld the regulations. Among its rulings, the court held that restrictions on the location of advertising were not pre-empted by the FCLAA, and that neither the regulations prohibiting outdoor advertising within 1,000 feet of a school or playground nor the sales practices regulations restricting the location and distribution of tobacco products violated the First Amendment. The court ruled, however, that the point-of-sale advertising regulations requiring that indoor advertising be placed no lower than five feet from the floor were invalid because the Attorney General had not provided sufficient justification for that restriction. The First Circuit affirmed the District Court's rulings that the cigarette advertising regulations are not pre-empted by the FCLAA and that the outdoor advertising regulations and the sales practices regulations do not violate the First Amendment under Central Hudson Gas & Elec. Corp. v. Public Serv. Comm'n of N. Y., 447 U.S. 557, but reversed the lower court's invalidation of the point-of-sale advertising regulations, concluding that the Attorney General is better suited than courts to determine what restrictions are necessary.


1. The FCLAA pre-empts Massachusetts' regulations governing outdoor and point-of-sale cigarette advertising. Pp. 540-553.

Page 526

(a) The FCLAA's pre-emption provision, § 1334, prohibits (a) requiring cigarette packages to bear any "statement relating to smoking and health, other than the statement required by" § 1333, and (b) any "requirement or prohibition based on smoking and health . . . imposed under state law with respect to the advertising or promotion of any cigarettes the packages of which are labeled in conformity with" § 1333. The Court's analysis begins with the statute's language. Hughes Aircraft Co. v. Jacobson, 525 U.S. 432, 438. The statute's interpretation is aided by considering the predecessor pre-emption provision and the context in which the current language was adopted. See, e. g., Medtronic, Inc. v. Lohr, 518 U.S. 470, 486. The original provision simply prohibited any "statement relating to smoking and health . . . in the advertising of any cigarettes the packages of which are labeled in conformity with the [Act's] provisions." Without question, the current pre-emption provision's plain language is much broader. Cipollone v. Liggett Group, Inc., 505 U.S. 504, 520. Rather than preventing only "statements," the amended provision reaches all "requirement[s] or prohibition[s] . . . imposed under State law." And, although the former statute reached only statements "in the advertising," the current provision governs "with respect to the advertising or promotion" of cigarettes. At the same time that Congress expanded the pre-emption provision with respect to the States, it enacted a provision prohibiting cigarette advertising in electronic media altogether. Pp. 540-546.

(b) Congress pre-empted state cigarette advertising regulations like the Attorney General's because they would upset federal legislative choices to require specific warnings and to impose the ban on cigarette advertising in electronic media in order to address concerns about smoking and health. In holding that the FCLAA does not nullify the Massachusetts regulations, the First Circuit concentrated on whether they are "with respect to" advertising and promotion, concluding that the FCLAA only pre-empts regulations of the content of cigarette advertising. The court also reasoned that the regulations are a form of zoning, a traditional area of state power, and, therefore, a presumption against pre-emption applied, see California Div. of Labor Standards Enforcement v. Dillingham Constr., N. A., Inc., 519 U.S. 316, 325. This Court rejects the notion that the regulations are not "with respect to" cigarette advertising and promotion. There is no question about an indirect relationship between the Massachusetts regulations and cigarette advertising: The regulations expressly target such advertising. Id., at 324-325. The Attorney General's argument that the regulations are not "based on smoking and health" since they do not involve health-related content, but instead target youth exposure to cigarette advertising, is unpersuasive because, at bottom, the youth exposure concern is

Page 527

intertwined with the smoking and health concern. Also unavailing is the Attorney General's claim that the regulations are not pre-empted because they govern the location, not the content, of cigarette advertising. The content/location distinction cannot be squared with the preemption provision's language, which reaches all "requirements" and "prohibitions" "imposed under State law." A distinction between advertising content and location in the FCLAA also cannot be reconciled with Congress' own location-based restriction, which bans advertising in electronic media, but not elsewhere. The Attorney General's assertion that a complete state ban on cigarette advertising would not be pre-empted because Congress did not intend to preclude local control of zoning finds no support in the FCLAA, whose comprehensive warnings, advertising restrictions, and pre-emption provision would make little sense if a State or locality could simply target and ban all cigarette advertising. Pp. 546-551

(c) The FCLAA's pre-emption provision does not restrict States' and localities' ability to enact generally applicable zoning restrictions on the location and size of advertisements that apply to cigarettes on equal terms with other products, see, e. g., Metromedia, Inc. v. San Diego, 453 U.S. 490, 507-508, or to regulate conduct as it relates to the sale or use of cigarettes, as by prohibiting cigarette sales to minors, see 42 U.S.C. §§ 300x-26(a)(1), 300x-21, as well as common inchoate offenses that attach to criminal conduct, such as solicitation, conspiracy, and attempt, cf. Central Hudson, supra, at 563-564. Pp. 551-552.

(d) Because the issue was not decided below, the Court declines to reach the smokeless tobacco petitioners' argument that, if the outdoor and point-of-sale advertising regulations for cigarettes are preempted, then the same regulations for smokeless tobacco must be invalidated because they cannot be severed from the cigarette provisions. P. 553.

2. Massachusetts' outdoor and point-of-sale advertising regulations relating to smokeless tobacco and cigars violate the First Amendment, but the sales practices regulations relating to all three tobacco products are constitutional. Pp. 553-571.

(a) Under Central Hudson's four-part test for analyzing regulations of commercial speech, the Court must determine (1) whether the expression is protected by the First Amendment, (2) whether the asserted governmental interest is substantial, (3) whether the regulation directly advances the governmental interest asserted, and (4) whether it is not more extensive than is necessary to serve that interest. 447 U.S., at 566. Only the last two steps are at issue here. The Attorney General has assumed for summary judgment purposes that the First Amendment protects the speech of petitioners, none of whom contests

Page 528

the importance of the State's interest in preventing the use of tobacco by minors. The third step of Central Hudson requires that the government demonstrate that the harms it recites are real and that its restriction will in fact alleviate them to a material degree. Edenfield v. Fane, 507 U.S. 761, 770-771. The fourth step of Central Hudson requires a reasonable fit between the legislature's ends and the means chosen to accomplish those ends, a means narrowly tailored to achieve the desired objective. E. g., Florida Bar v. Went For It, Inc., 515 U.S. 618, 632. Pp. 553-556.

(b) The outdoor advertising regulations prohibiting smokeless tobacco or cigar advertising within 1,000 feet of a school or playground violate the First Amendment. Pp. 556-566.

(1) Those regulations satisfy Central Hudson's third step by directly advancing the governmental interest asserted to justify them. The Court's detailed review of the record reveals that the Attorney General has provided ample documentation of the problem with underage use of smokeless tobacco and cigars. In addition, the Court disagrees with petitioners' claim that there is no evidence that preventing targeted advertising campaigns and limiting youth exposure to advertising will decrease underage use of those products. On the record below and in the posture of summary judgment, it cannot be concluded that the Attorney General's decision to regulate smokeless tobacco and cigar advertising in an effort to combat the use of tobacco products by minors was based on mere "speculation and conjecture." Edenfield,...

To continue reading