The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal of a lower-court decision upholding a Los Angeles County, CA, ban on flavored tobacco and vaping products passed in 2019. The law took effect in 2020, prohibiting in-store sales of flavored vapes, smokeless tobacco, and menthol cigarettes in unincorporated areas of the county.
The court’s refusal to entertain the appeal could indicate it will reject future appeals on similar grounds—specifically, an appeal of future rulings upholding California’s statewide flavored vape and tobacco ban, which took effect last December.
R.J. Reynolds challenged the L.A. County law based on its claim that the federal Tobacco Control Act preempts localities and states from regulating tobacco sales. The cigarette manufacturer lost its original challenge in a federal district court in 2021, and that decision was upheld last March by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
The Supreme Court declined without comment to hear the L.A. County appeal—possibly a bad sign for Reynolds’ challenge of the statewide flavor ban approved by California voters last year. The high court already refused to grant an injunction that would have put the statewide ban on hold while it is heard in a federal district court.
Reynolds’ arguments against the statewide ban—which will be decided by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, and then appealed to the Ninth Circuit—are nearly identical to those the company’s lawyers employed when unsuccessfully challenging the county law. The two laws themselves are also almost identical.