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Lawyers See Pitfalls for Fast-Food, Alcohol

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NEW YORK Fast-food and alcohol purveyors could soon be subject to the same kinds of class-action lawsuits that led to the virtual demise of cigarette advertising.

That was the consensus of legal representatives of the major advertising associations at an Advertising Week panel discussion called "Advertising and the First Amendment."

The discussion focused on how the advertising industry can protect itself against large-scale attacks from social interest groups and governmental bodies, such as Congress and local legislators.

"Food is seen as the new tobacco," said Adonis Hoffman, svp and counsel for the American Association of Advertising Agencies.

Panelists said marketers need to arm themselves with knowledge of the law and prepare contingencies, just as their attackers have been doing in recent years.

The panel consisted of Hoffman, Dan Jaffe, evp, government relations for the Association of National Advertisers, and Jeffrey Perlman, evp and general counsel for government affairs and administration of the American Advertising Federation. Attorney Douglas Wood of law firm Reed Smith Hall Dickler served as moderator.

"The industry really has to get active if they're going to succeed in fighting these issues," said the ANA's Jaffe.