Ad groups had no immediate comment on the decision by U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler, except to say it was "significant." But sweeping advertising sanctions could set a precedent for other industries, including food and alcohol, leaving little doubt that the ad industry will move to involve itself in the appeal, probably through friend-of-the-court briefs.
The ad industry has gone to court before to battle tobacco-related ad curbs proposed by the Food and Drug Administration under former FDA Commissioner David Kessler, which were eventually overturned for procedural reasons.
Judge Kessler's 1,742-page decision -- the order was another 18 pages --included sweeping limits on tobacco makers. Among them:
- the use of the terms "low tar," "light," "ultra light," "mild" and "natural" are banned;
- each big tobacco company is required to buy one full-page corrective ad in the Sunday editions of more than two dozen major newspapers, with the schedule alternated monthly among the companies;
- major tobacco makers are ordered to run 15-second corrective TV spots once a week during prime time for a year;
- packaging and in-store signs must carry new corrective advertising.
The U.S. case was filed by the Clinton administration against what was originally five tobacco makers: Altria, parent of Philip Morris; R.J. Reynolds; Lorillard; Brown & Williamson; and BAT.
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Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that for two years, big tobacco is required to buy full-page corrective advertising monthly in the Sunday editions of more than two dozen major newspapers with the schedule alternated so the ads appear at least weekly.