A panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled on Tuesday that California's tough anti-smoking advertisements do not violate the First Amendment rights of tobacco companies. Attorneys for tobacco companies RJ Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Lorillard Tobacco Co. argued that because the tobacco giants were being forced through excise taxes to pay for the ads in part, their right to not be compelled to finance speech was violated by the ads, which they claim unfairly tarnish their reputation by vilifying the tobacco industry.
The court denied the appeal, ruling that the tobacco companies' position is a fundamental misunderstanding of taxation principles. Read the opinion [PDF]. AP has more.