Clinton reveals tobacco ad plan

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President Clinton on Thursday unveiled proposed regulation of the tobacco industry by the Food & Drug Administration, and as expected, advertising took the brunt of the attack.

The president's plan would limit tobacco advertising to little more than b&w text-based "tombstone" advertising in any magazine with over 15% readership by under-age youths and on any outdoor board. It would also ban tobacco companies from using brand names in event sponsorship, from using images in direct mail and totally ban programs like the Marlboro Adventure Team and Camel Cash as well as merchandise giveaways. Further, outdoor ads within 1,000 feet of a school would be banned, point-of-sale signs would be limited to b&w and the tobacco companies would have to fund anti-smoking advertising.

"It is illegal for children to smoke cigarettes," President Clinton said at a press conference. "How can it then be legal for people to advertise to children to get them to smoke cigarettes? And if anybody seriously doubts that a lot of this advertising is designed to reach children, to get new customers for the tobacco companies as the old customers disappear ... It cannot be a violation of freedom of speech [to ban ads that] try to get people to do something they can't legally do."

Tobacco companies and advertising groups immediately filed suit to try to halt the action. Brown & Williamson said: "We will strenuously oppose the FDA's efforts to regulate tobacco. We will fight this action through an industry lawsuit that has just been filed. Under the guise of preventing youth smoking, a goal which all tobacco companies share, the Clinton administration in reality has laid the foundation for a 'backdoor prohibition' policy that extends not only to minors, but to adults as well."

Copyright August 1995 Crain Communications Inc.

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