The Supreme Court's ruling that the FDA lacks congressional authority to regulate tobacco products and tobacco marketing throws the tobacco debate back to Congress, which has been unable to agree on what to do next. But the tobacco debate has already changed -- forever. Tobacco industry leaders have given up the fiction that health concerns about their products were "theories," and the foolish contention that cigarettes are not addictive. And, in a stunning settlement with state attorneys general, the industry has accepted sweeping restrictions to protect teens and young kids from exposure to tobacco advertising and marketing activities.
Thankfully, no longer are advertising's First Amendment privileges trotted out to resist change. Now that everyone, including tobacco executives, agrees that tobacco is a uniquely dangerous product, advertising groups no longer need sit at the industry's elbow. Ad industry leaders can chart a new course on tobacco and help shape the solution. It's a change that's long overdue.