Cigar Association of America, et al v. City of Philadelphia et al. (2020)

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No. 2:20-cv-03220 (E.D. Pa. Jul 01, 2020)

Background

On December 18, 2019, the City of Philadelphia enacted a flavored tobacco product sales restriction covering all flavored tobacco products, including flavored cigars and rolling tobacco. The ordinance contains an exemption for businesses that prohibit entry to minors, do not serve food or beverages; and derive 90% of or more of its revenue from the sale of tobacco products.

Synopsis

On June 18, 2020, the Cigar Association of America, ITG Cigars, Swedish Match North America, and Swisher International filed a complaint in Pennsylvania state court against the City of Philadelphia over its flavored tobacco products sales ordinance. The complaint contains several counts, including:

  1. The ordinance is expressly preempted by two separate state laws that regulate tobacco sales to minors and contain express preemption provisions;
  2. The ordinance violates the industry’s due process rights because its definition of “characterizing flavor” is ambiguous and does not provide guidance to sellers as to which products are prohibited and which are permitted;
  3. The ordinance violates the industry’s due process rights because it is not rationally related to the goal of addressing youth sales; and 
  4. The ordinance violates the Pennsylvania Constitution because it is vague and ambiguous.

In addition to the request that the court issue declaratory relief on the preemption and constitutionality claims, the plaintiffs moved for a preliminary injunction to prevent enforcement of the ordinance pending judicial review.

On July 1, 2020, the City of Philadelphia filed a notice of removal to federal court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Briefing on the preliminary injunction has concluded, and a hearing on the motion for preliminary injunction is set to occur on October 7, 2020.

Last Updated on September 30, 2020