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“While the line between the constitutionally permissible dissemination of factual information and the impermissible expropriation of a company’s advertising space for government advocacy can be frustratingly blurry, here the line seems quite clear,” Leon wrote.

The case is separate from a lawsuit by several of the same tobacco companies over the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which cleared the way for the more graphic warning labels and other marketing restrictions. The law also allowed the FDA to limit nicotine and banned tobacco companies from sponsoring athletic or social events or giving away free samples or branded merchandise.

Last month, a federal appeals court in Cincinnati ruled that the law was constitutional.

Tobacco companies increasingly rely on their packaging to build brand loyalty and grab consumers _ one of the few advertising levers left to them after the government curbed their presence in magazines, billboards and TV.

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