The Bloomberg report provides the details. The suit is based on a state law fraud claim, and the Supreme Court said -- in a fractured 1992 case, Cipollone -- that such claims we not preempted by the federal cigarette labeling laws. And there is also the argument that the suits are preempted by the Federal Trade Commission standards for measuring the tar and nicotine in cigarettes:
That argument may be a tough sell. U.S. Solicitor General Gregory Garre, the Bush administration's top courtroom lawyer, is urging the court to reject it, saying state-law suits are
"complementary'' to the FTC's efforts to regulate cigarette advertising.
"It's not easy to argue that state tort law frustrates the purpose of a federal regulatory regime when the federal regulators are there saying, "No, it doesn't,'' said Paul Clement, Garre's predecessor as solicitor general. Clement stepped down in June, three weeks before the administration filed its brief siding with consumers.
Philip Morris says the administration's stance is a self-serving effort to bolster the Justice Department's own tobacco suit, which accuses cigarette makers of violating a federal racketeering law by marketing low-tar cigarettes as safer alternatives.