CTA Expanding Chicago Ban On Tobacco And Alcohol Ads

A second front opened in the war on tobacco and alcohol advertising here with the Chicago Transit Authority moving to ban such ads from its trains, buses and stations.
The development follows an ordinance passed last month by the Chicago City Council that prohibits most outdoor advertising for both product categories within city limits.
The Federation of Advertising Industry Representatives, a coalition of outdoor advertising companies, filed suit in U.S. District Court seeking an injunction against implementation of the city council’s action. No lawsuit against the CTA is planned.
“We’re not sure a second suit is necessary if the suit against the city is successful,” said Paul M. Levy, lead attorney for FAIR. A hearing on the lawsuit has not been set. “If [the first suit] fails, the CTA policy will be validated,” Levy said.
Levy said the organization believes the CTA policy “is as constitutionally infirm as the city ordinance. Our view is that as long as advertising is truthful and for lawful products, a ban is constitutionally infirm.” He labeled the CTA’s action “politically expedient.”
Levy said a 1985 Seventh Circuit (Chicago) U.S. Court of Appeals decision regarding advertising for Planned Parenthood supports FAIR’s contention that the transit system is a “public forum” that cannot discriminate against advertisers. He said the city council’s resolution exempted the CTA from its ban for that reason.
The CTA, which said it stands to lose about $1 million annually from tobacco and alcoholic beverage advertisers, said it believes its ban is legally enforceable. –Scott Hume