Appeal expected in tobacco ad case

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Tacoma, Wash., officials are expected to appeal an appellate court decision overturning the local health department's ban on outdoor tobacco signs. A three-member panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco on Friday ruled the 1997 ordinance violated a federal law pre-empting local and state regulation of tobacco ads. The Tacoma ordinance generally barred tobacco ad signs in the city, allowing only b&w "tombstone" signs without imagery on the outside of stores. Major tobacco companies' subsequent deal to remove big outdoor signs lessens the impact of the court decision, but Tacoma retailers now will be allowed to use tobacco imagery on the outside of their stores. The decision also may affect cases in California. Los Angeles and Oakland, Calif. California is one of nine states in the appellate court circuit.

Copyright November 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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