SAN DIEGO (AP) — R.J. Reynolds and other tobacco companies filed a request Tuesday asking the U.S. Supreme Court to impose an emergency order to stop California from enforcing a ban on flavored tobacco products that was overwhelmingly approved by voters earlier this month.
The ban was first passed by the state legislature two years ago but it never took effect after tobacco companies gathered enough signatures to put it on the ballot. But after nearly two-thirds of voters approved of banning the sale of everything from cotton-candy vaping juice to methanol cigarettes, it is set to go into effect by Dec. 21.
Supporters of the ban say the law was necessary to put a stop to a staggering rise in teen smoking.
R.J. Reynolds filed a federal lawsuit challenging it a day after the Nov. 8 vote, but the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday denied the company's emergency motion to block the law pending appeal.
The tobacco giants argue that the authority to ban flavored products rests in federal law. The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act gives the Food and Drug Administration the authority to regulate tobacco. The companies are being represented by Noel Francisco, who served as the Trump administration’s top Supreme Court lawyer.
California will be the second state in the nation, after Massachusetts, to enact a ban prohibiting the sale of all flavored tobacco products. A number of California cities, including Los Angeles and San Diego, already enacted their own bans, and several states have outlawed flavored vaping products. So far no legal challenges to those bans have prevailed.
But tobacco companies have been pushing especially hard to keep from being shut out of a large portion of California’s vast market.
In the filing, the companies said they would...