CA Smoke and Vape Association, Inc. et al v. City of Palmdale (2020)

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Status: Closed

Docket No. 2:20-cv-05039 (C.D. Cal. Jun 07, 2020)

Synopsis

Industry trade association challenges City of Palmdale’s flavored tobacco product sales restriction, arguing that the ordinance is expressly and impliedly preempted by federal law.

Why It Matters for Public Health

Along with similar challenges to other efforts to prevent the sale of flavored tobacco products in other jurisdictions, this case alleged that the Tobacco Control Act does not allow localities to enact flavored product sales restrictions. The company voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit after having lost a similar challenge to LA County’s ordinance, further underscoring the power of local governments to enact public-health focused sales restrictions.

Background

On December 16, 2009, the City of Palmdale adopted an ordinance prohibiting the sale of “flavored electronic cigarette products.” The ordinance prohibits the sale of all flavored products, including tobacco and menthol.  The ordinance went into effect on June 3, 2020.

District Court Proceedings

On June 7, 2020, the CA Smoke and Vape Association filed a lawsuit against the City of Palmdale over its flavored e-cigarette sales restriction (the same group previously filed a lawsuit against Los Angeles County over its own flavored tobacco product sales restriction).

As in its lawsuit against Los Angeles County, the Association argued that flavor restrictions are preempted by the Tobacco Control Act. Specifically, the lawsuit alleged:

  1. Federal law expressly preempts Palmdale’s ordinance because the Tobacco Control Act gives the FDA exclusive authority to issue tobacco product standards; and
  2. Even if the Palmdale ordinance is not expressly preempted, it is impliedly preempted because it conflicts with the federal government’s “ongoing and active efforts to address flavors in tobacco products.”

The Association indicated in its complaint that it intended to file a motion for a preliminary injunction, which would have enjoined enforcement of the ordinance until the case could be considered on the merits. In late July, the case was transferred to the same judge who heard (and ultimately dismissed) the challenges to the LA County ordinance, also brought by CA Smoke & Vape Association and R.J. Reynolds. However, on July 28, 2020, the plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed the case.

Litigation Status

The case was voluntarily dismissed by the Industry plaintiffs and is now closed.

Case Documents & Information