Hegar v. Texas Small Tobacco Tobacco Coalition
Hegar v. Tex. Small Tobacco Coal., No. 03-13-00753-CV, Texas Court of Appeals, Third District (2017).
- United States
- Mar 24, 2017
- Texas Court of Appeals, Third District
- Glenn Hegar, in his official capacity as Texas Comptroller
- Ken Paxton, in his official capacity as Texas Attorney General
- Global Tobacco, Inc.
- Texas Small Tobacco Coalition
Due Process Clause (U.S. Const. amend. XIV, § 1)
Equal Protection Clause (U.S. Const. amend. XIV, § 1)
Tex. Health & Safety Code §§ 161.601-.614 (Subchapter V)
Texas’s Equal and Uniform Clause (Tex. Const. art. VIII, §§ 1, 2)
Type of Litigation
Challenge to Government Policies Relating to Tobacco Control/Public Health
Tobacco companies or front groups may challenge any legislative or regulatory measure that affects their business interests. Unlike public interest litigation, these cases seek to weaken health measures. These cases frequently involve the industry proceeding against the government. For example, a group of restaurant owners challenging a smoke free law as unconstitutional.
Tobacco Control Topics
Price and Tax Measures
Tax or price measures, including tax- and duty-free regulation. (See FCTC Art. 6)
Right to Equal Protection
A violation of the right to equal protection under the law, or another form of discrimination. The industry may claim that regulations discriminate against tobacco companies or tobacco products. Smokers may claim that addiction is a health condition, so regulations discriminate against them based on their health condition. Facilities subject to smoke free laws may claim that smoke free (SF) exceptions (e.g., hotel rooms, mental hospitals, etc.) unfairly discriminate against SF businesses because the law should apply to all locations equally.
Right to Procedural Due Process
A violation of the right to procedural fairness. For example, a party may claim that a government agency did not consult with public or stakeholders when issuing regulations.
Type of Tobacco Product
Texas law imposed a higher tax on the tobacco products of manufacturers who were not members of any settlement agreements ("Small Tobacco"), compared to the tax rate for manufacturers who had entered into settlement agreements. The settlement agreements required annual payments and restricted advertising and lobbying activities in exchange for releasing claims against manufacturers. Some manufacturers who were members of the settlement agreements did not make any annual payments to the State of Texas, although their products were taxed at a lower rate pursuant to the law. Small Tobacco argued that the difference in the tax between their products and products produced by those manufacturers who were not making annual payments to Texas violated the constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection. The Court rejected Small Tobacco's arguments and held that the law was constitutional.