MORE THREATS TO ADVERTISING

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The attacks on advertising never seem to end, and here we are again sounding the alarm. We offer these thoughts as ammunition to fire across the bow of those who would impose unfair regulations on this industry.

One threat comes from the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Law, redrafting the Uniform Commercial Code that many states use as a model for their own laws. A draft now circulating would let consumers more easily sue marketers over ad claims. But, according to advertising groups, the draft makes no clear definition between puffery and unsubstantiated factual claims. Federal regulators have long recognized there is a difference, and this new draft sounds like a Lawyers' Full Employment Act, with every boast a potential lawsuit or criminal violation.

And in the U. S. Senate, three Democrats say they'll reintroduce legislation that would remove the full deductibility of tobacco advertising on corporate income tax. New Jersey's Bill Bradley proclaims: "What we've done with Joe Camel is made him a deductible dependent by allowing advertising to be written off. The government should not be subsidizing this kind of advertising or this kind of activity."

So what was once a tax on business profits has now become a club over all business activities. Mr. Good Businessman can properly deduct ad expenses but, for Mr. Bad Guy, advertising is nothing but a government subsidy that must be stopped.

If tobacco companies are thus discriminated against today, you can be quite sure that "unhealthy" foods, cars that don't meet some federal guideline, appliances without certain safety features and other politically incorrect products will be the next target for this kind of punishment.

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