Chicago Ad Ban Is Overturned

Lawyers for the the city of Chicago said they may appeal last week’s ruling throwing out an ordinance banning outdoor advertising for alcohol and tobacco products.
But opponents of the ordinance said they welcome an appeal, expecting that future rulings, perhaps by the U.S. Supreme Court, will strength efforts to block similar ordinances elsewhere.
Senior U.S. Judge Milton Shadur ruled in favor of a motion seeking a summary judgment filed by the Federation of Advertising Industry Representatives, a coalition of outdoor advertising firms that had filed suit against the city. Judge Shadur voided the city’s ordinance, passed last September, ruling it is pre-empted by the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act’s stricture against limitations on cigarette advertising or promotion if the prohibitions are “based on smoking and health.” Ordinance proponents said it could curb underage smoking and drinking.
Dan Jaffe, executive vice president of the Association of National Advertisers in Washington, D.C., called Judge Shadur’s ruling “a very important cautionary signal” to other municipalities. The ANA has filed suit against New York City protesting a similar ordinance there and said it will present the Chicago ruling as a legal precedent.
Phil Zisook, one of the attorneys representing FAIR in Chicago, said Judge Shadur’s ruling has broad significance because it addressed rulings that have upheld the law limiting outdoor tobacco advertising passed in 1996 in Baltimore. Because it has survived legal challenges, the Baltimore law has been the model for subsequent billboard bands and restrictions.
Judge Shadur called “unpersuasive” court rulings upholding Baltimore’s law as restrictions on location rather than content. Such a distinction, Judge Shadur said, is “found nowhere in the congressional language” of the federal statute, which he said pre-empts any local restrictions.