Almost as soon as the Edina City Council had passed a ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products, it found itself on the receiving end of a complaint filed by a four tobacco companies and a pair of retailers.
The suit was filed in the Minnesota District of U.S. District Court by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, R.J. Reynolds Vapor Company, American Snuff Company, and Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company, along with Vernon BP and Lang’s One Stop Market, both of which are retailers.
The plaintiffs called it “an overbroad reaction to legitimate public-health concerns about youth vaping,” adding that Edina’s ban was one of the most draconian in the nation.
It is similar to another lawsuit filed against Los Angeles County, which passed a ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products in Oct. 2019.
Both suits claim that the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, the 2009 federal law which empowers the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco products, prohibits state and local governments from enacting and standards or laws that either differ from or add on to federal law, such as the case of a city or county enacting a ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products.
Additionally, the plaintiffs say that the county’s ban stands as an obstacle to the purposes of federal law, which are to promulgate tobacco product standards that can be used at the national level. It notes that Congress and FDA have already established that “certain tobacco products, particularly menthol cigarettes, should remain available to adult users of tobacco products.”
Both complaints seek relief in the form of the ordinances being declared invalid and unenforceable, as well as requesting that the court both preliminarily and permanently issue an injunction that prevents the bans from being implemented and enforced.