N.Y. Ad Ban Under Fire

Industry Lobbyists File Lawsuit Against Tobacco Law Signed By Mayor Giuliani
WASHINGTON, D.C.–Five ad industry groups filed suit in federal district court last week, challenging the constitutionality of the tobacco ad ban passed by the New York City Council.
New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani signed the bill into law last Wednesday, even though he had said it would be vulnerable to constitutional challenges and that he favored a less restrictive version. The ban outlaws tobacco ads within 1,000 feet of schools and playgrounds.
Advertising lobbyists also acknowledged that the R.J. Reynolds tobacco marketing documents revealed last week would likely fuel public support nationally for more ad bans. Some of the memos detail marketing efforts aimed at 14 to 18 year olds. The 81 documents also include surveys, memos to board members and reports by outside advertising agencies on how to capitalize on the youth market.
“There is no question about the power of the government to stop specific ads targeting kids,” said Dan Jaffe, senior vice president of the Association of National Advertisers, one of the organizations challenging the New York ban. “But [these bans] set up a wall against all outdoor advertising, and that has to be unconstitutional.”
The ANA, American Advertising Federation, American Association of Advertising Agencies and Outdoor Advertising Association of America joined with the Greater New York Metropolitan Food Council, a retail trade group, to fight Giuliani. They hired prominent First Amendment attorney Floyd Abrams to represent them.