FDA v. Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., 529 U.S. 120, 3 (2000)

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122

FDA v. BROWN & WILLIAMSON TOBACCO CORP.

Syllabus

See 15 U. S. C. 1331. Thus, an FDA ban would plainly contradict congressional intent. Apparently recognizing this dilemma, the FDA has concluded that tobacco products are actually "safe" under the FDCA because banning them would cause a greater harm to public health than leaving them on the market. But this safety determination—focusing on the relative harms caused by alternative remedial measures—is not a substitute for those required by the FDCA. Various provisions in the Act require the agency to determine that, at least for some consumers, the product's therapeutic benefits outweigh the risks of illness or serious injury. This the FDA cannot do, because tobacco products are unsafe for obtaining any therapeutic benefit. The inescapable conclusion is that there is no room for tobacco products within the FDCA's regulatory scheme. If they cannot be used safely for any therapeutic purpose, and yet they cannot be banned, they simply do not fit. Pp. 133-143.

(c) The history of tobacco-specific legislation also demonstrates that Congress has spoken directly to the FDA's authority to regulate tobacco products. Since 1965, Congress has enacted six separate statutes addressing the problem of tobacco use and human health. Those statutes, among other things, require that health warnings appear on all packaging and in all print and outdoor advertisements, see 15 U. S. C. 1331, 1333, 4402; prohibit the advertisement of tobacco products through any electronic communication medium regulated by the Federal Communications Commission, see 1335, 4402(f); require the Secretary of HHS to report every three years to Congress on research findings concerning tobacco's addictive property, 42 U. S. C. 290aa-2(b)(2); and make States' receipt of certain federal block grants contingent on their prohibiting any tobacco product manufacturer, retailer, or distributor from selling or distributing any such product to individuals under age 18, 300x-26(a)(1). This tobacco-specific legislation has created a specific regulatory scheme for addressing the problem of tobacco and health. And it was adopted against the backdrop of the FDA consistently and resolutely stating that it was without authority under the FDCA to regulate tobacco products as customarily marketed. In fact, Congress several times considered and rejected bills that would have given the FDA such authority. Indeed, Congress' actions in this area have evidenced a clear intent to preclude a meaningful policymaking role for any administrative agency. Further, Congress' tobacco legislation prohibits any additional regulation of tobacco product labeling with respect to tobacco's health consequences, a central aspect of regulation under the FDCA. Under these circumstances, it is evident that Congress has ratified the FDA's previous, long-held position that it lacks jurisdiction to regulate tobacco products as customarily marketed. Congress has

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