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Tobacco Makers Sue Over FDA Oversight

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Two major cigarette makers filed a federal lawsuit Monday, claiming that a new tobacco law, which gives the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authority over cigarette marketing, violates their right to free speech.

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., maker of Camel cigarettes, and Lorillard Inc., which sells Newport cigarettes, and several other tobacco companies filed the lawsuit against federal authorities, including the FDA, the Associated Press reported.

In a 44-page complaint, the tobacco companies claim provisions of the bill, passed in June, "severely restrict the few remaining channels we have to communicate with adult tobacco consumers," Martin L. Holton III, senior vice president and general counsel for Reynolds, said in a statement.

The companies further claim the law keeps tobacco makers from "making truthful statements about their products in scientific, public policy and political debates."

Reynolds doesn't oppose the whole law, just portions of it, said its spokesman, David Howard.

Under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, the FDA can limit nicotine in tobacco products, ban candy flavorings and bar labels such as "light." The FDA cannot ban nicotine or tobacco outright, but it can regulate what goes into tobacco products, make public those ingredients and block specific marketing campaigns, such as those aimed at children, the news service said.

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