A Retrospective Review of FDA v. Brown Williamson Tobacco Corporation and the Issue of Congressional Intent
CitationA Retrospective Review of FDA v. Brown Williamson Tobacco Corporation and the Issue of Congressional Intent (2004 Third Year Paper)
AbstractContrary to a tradition of the FDA (Federal Food and Drug Administration) consistently maintaining that it could not assert jurisdiction over tobacco products, the agency issued a determination of jurisdiction over cigarettes and smokeless tobacco and proposed a set of regulations in 1996 in an effort to combat the public health problems caused by tobacco products. Rather than a complete ban, the FDA proposed regulations aimed solely at younger Americans due to its conclusion that such an approach was safer for the public health. Despite a variety of arguments by the FDA, the Supreme Court held that the FDA could not assert jurisdiction over tobacco products because Congress had directly addressed that precise question and had precluded the FDA from regulating cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. Examining the FDA regulatory scheme as well as the several pieces of tobacco-specific legislation enacted by Congress, the Court found that the FDAâ€™s regulation of tobacco products would be contradictory to the FDCA (Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act) as a whole and to Congressâ€™ intent to adopt a separate regulatory regime for tobacco products. Through a narrow interpretation of the FDCA and a broad reading of the tobacco-related legislation broadly, the Court concluded that Congress could not have intended the FDA to regulate cigarettes and smokeless tobacco.
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