Tobacco companies allege FDA of overstepping authority over product labeling, packaging

Markets Associated Press

The nation's largest tobacco companies are suing the Food and Drug Administration over recent guidelines that they claim overstep the agency's authority over packaging for cigarettes and other tobacco products.

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Units of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, Altria Group Inc. and Lorillard Tobacco filed the lawsuit Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, claiming the FDA's guidance infringes on commercial speech.

The FDA gained authority to regulate tobacco in 2009, including the power to review new tobacco products before they can be sold if they are significantly different from products on the market.

Last month the agency issued guidelines on how manufacturers can determine if their products require FDA review.

But the tobacco makers allege that the FDA is asserting overly broad authority to review labeling and packaging.