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Appellate Court Upholds Dismissal of New York City Graphic Point of Sale Tobacco Signs

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The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit today upheld a 2010 district court decision striking down a New York City resolution mandating that retailers who sell cigarettes display signs containing graphic health warnings. The trial court found, and the appellate court agreed, that such requirements were preempted by federal law.

"We are pleased that the Second Circuit reaffirmed that federal law bars state and local governments from regulating the content of cigarette advertising and promotion," said Murray Garnick, Altria Client Services senior vice president and associate general counsel, speaking on behalf of Philip Morris USA. “This suit has always been about who has the authority to regulate the content of cigarette warnings. That is a power reserved to the federal government without interference or additional efforts by state and local authorities.”

In its decision, the appellate court concluded that “requirements or prohibitions directly affecting the content of the manufacturers' promotional message to consumers are preempted.” The court specifically held that the city cannot require “retailers to post warning signs adjacent to cigarette displays, because doing so would affect the content of the retailers and manufacturers' promotional efforts.”

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