Industry Groups Challenge Tobacco Marketing Regulations

There’s a report in the most recent version of MediaWeek that several trade groups have filed a friend of the court brief (also called an “amicus curiae” brief for all you Latin scholars out there) challenging the constitutionality of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. The law took effect in June. It gets pretty detailed on what tobacco companies can and can’t do in the area of marketing. For example, tobacco ads can’t appear on billboards located within 100 feet of elementary or high schools. The law bans t-shirts that promote tobacco products. (I guess it would be too much to ask for Congress to ban New York Yankee t-shirts, but I’d vote for that). Even commercial speech is subject to First Amendment protection (although the standard is lower than it is for political speech). The brief poses the “slippery slope” argument – if Congress can take these steps with tobacco advertising, what else will it regulate? The brief was just filed on November 30, so we won’t know the results for some time yet. But it will be interesting to see what happens.