Clinton: Some tobacco ad rules would fail First Amendment test

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President Clinton said he believes some of the ad concessions agreed to by tobacco marketers in their pact with state attorneys general would be thrown out by the courts as unconstitutional if Congress sought to impose them by law and the tobacco industry resisted in court. In a letter to Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John McCain (R., Ariz.), President Clinton said he believes the narrower tobacco ad curbs contained in new Food & Drug Administration rules would pass court challenges, but that the restrictions won by the state attorneys general--in a pact that also provided the tobacco companies limited protection from future liability suits--went beyond the FDA measures and would need the industy's consent. Those additional concessions include removal of all outdoor boards, rather than just some boards as proposed by the FDA, and the elimination of people and cartoons from all tobacco ads. Congress must enact law changes to grant the tobacco industry the liability protection it seeks. Some members of Congress have suggested enacting the ad restrictions as law while denying the tobacco companies liability protection. Tobacco executives have said they would fight any ad restrictions in court unless Congress grants some measure of liability protection.

Copyright March 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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