Tobacco ad ban rebuffed

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The U.S. Supreme Court, in the strongest indication yet that the Food & Drug Administration could have major problems with restricting tobacco advertising, on Monday sent a Baltimore ban on tobacco outdoor advertising back to a lower court with instructions to reconsider its constitutionality.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had upheld the Baltimore ban before the High Court's May 13 ruling overturning a Rhode Island ban on liquor price advertising, strengthening the protection for truthful commercial speech. On Monday, the Supreme Court told the lower court to look at its Rhode Island ruling in re-examining the Baltimore ban. The court earlier sent back a similar Baltimore ban on alcohol outdoor advertising, but advertising groups said Monday's ruling indicates the court views tobacco advertising as enjoying the same kind of legal protection.

"It's a further signal that the FDA's regulations are in serious jeopardy," said Dan Jaffe, exec VP of the Association of National Advertisers. FDA wants to control and limit tobacco advertising.

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