FDA tobacco decision expected Friday

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A court decision in the advertising and tobacco industry's challenge of Food and Drug Administration tobacco regulations will be handed down on Friday, it was announced Tuesday.

U.S. District Court Judge William Osteen in Greensboro, N.C., today told reporters and attorneys that he will file his ruling on the tobacco and ad groups motion for summary judgment against the FDA regulations at 11 a.m.

Tobacco and ad groups had argued that the FDA rules should be set aside for any of three reasons: The FDA had no right to regulate tobacco, the agency hadn't correctly classified tobacco as a "drug delivery device" and the advertising restrictions the FDA imposed are so broad as to be unconstitutional.

Those ad restrictions, including bans on all tobacco ad imagery in magazines with either 15% readership of those under 18 or 2 million under 18 readers are due to take effect Aug. 28. Other restrictions affect POS, outdoor boards and sponsorships.

While the current negotiations between tobacco companies and attorney generals involve ad restrictions the decision still could have major impacts. Tobacco critics may be more willing to accept voluntary ad restrictions if FDA rules won't stand up and less willing if they believe the rules will stand.

Copyright April 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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