Court Upholds N.Y. Ad Ban On Tobacco Ads

An appeals court ruled last week that New York City’s ban on outdoor tobacco ads does not violate a federal law preventing states from restricting cigarette ads.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit overturned a lower court’s finding that the city’s
ordinance did not comply with the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act, a law prohibiting states from banning tobacco ads for health reasons.
Several city supermarkets, the Advertising Freedom Coalition and the Advertising Club of New York filed suit against the city in 1998 on the basis of the federal preemption and on the grounds that the ordinance violates free speech. The ordinance bans most outdoor tobacco ads within 1,000 feet of schools, playgrounds, day-care centers and amusement parks and prohibits most indoor ads in those areas if they are viewable from the street.
“We find it shocking that such a total ban was not pre-empted,” said Dan Jaffe, executive vice president of the Association of National Advertisers. “It is our belief that the ban is far more extensive than necessary.”
The decision, however, does not immediately allow the city to enforce the ordinance. The appeals court returned the case to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to consider the First Amendment issues.
“I look forward to the district court looking at the real facts in this case,” said Eric Rubin, general counsel for the Outdoor Advertising Association of America.
City officials maintain the ban is necessary to strengthen the enforcement of laws that prevent selling tobacco to kids.