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Judge Rules in Tobacco Advertising Case

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A law signed in June of last year giving the FDA broad powers over cigarette and tobacco products has (mostly) survived a challenge in federal court. Several tobacco companies sued to prevent enforcement of certain restrictions on marketing and labeling. The judge has upheld major portions of the law, including a ban on distributing branded items such as clothing, but struck down a provision that barred any images or color in cigarette advertisements. Noting that images such as the sketch of a factory on Conwood products or the color of Lorillard’s Newport menthol packaging were not designed to entice children to smoke, judge Joseph McKinley wrote “The act’s ‘blanket ban’ on all uses of color and images in tobacco labels and advertising has a ‘uniformly broad sweep'”.

McKinley did uphold the ban on distribution of branded merchandise saying there was no way to effectively limit it to adults and that even if only adults were to wear clothing advertising cigarettes it would convey the idea to children that tobacco use was widely accepted.

The case is Commonwealth Brands Inc vs. United States, U.S. District Court, Western District of Kentucky (Bowling Green), No. 09-117.

  
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