See you in Court
One thing is pretty clear about the FDA…no matter what they rule, there will be court cases. For one thing, Altria—the cigarette maker Philip Morris—is concerned that the FDA control may force them to change the name of one of the best selling cigar brands. Altria owns John Middleton Co., which makes the Black and Mild brand. Middleton dates back to 1856 and it has almost a third of the U.S. cigar market.
Under the Food and Drug Administration proposal, cigar makers would have to remove descriptions like “light,” ”mild,” ”medium” or “low” from their products, raising a unique question about the fate of Black & Mild.
The descriptions were banned for cigarettes under a 2009 law because many smokers wrongly thought they meant the products were less harmful than “full-flavor” cigarettes. Cigarette makers have since replaced those words with colors such as gold, silver, blue and orange on such brands, which usually feature different filters and milder-flavored blends.
The company contends that forcing it to change the name would be unconstitutional.
“Neither FDA’s regulatory authority or the First Amendment allows the FDA to ban words such as mild for cigar and pipe tobacco regardless of the context,” said Altria spokesman David Sutton. “Here, when the word is part of a longstanding and well-established trademark like Black & Mild, such a ban would violate basic constitutional guarantees.”
But, of course, constitutionality matters to the government. See Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder for confirmation.