Court Considers Cigarette Ad Limits
WASHINGTON (AP) - Restrictions on outdoor cigarette advertising in New York City and Chicago survived a Supreme Court challenge today.
The court, without comment, turned away advertisers' arguments that a federal law pre-empts cities from imposing their own restrictions.
Chicago's 1997 ordinance bans outdoor cigarette advertising, with exceptions: Such ads are allowed near highways, in some commercial areas, at sports facilities and inside stores that sell cigarettes.
The 1998 New York City law bars such ads within 1,000 feet of any school, playground, day care center or youth center. Also banned is indoor advertising in those areas that can be seen from the street.
The impact of the legal disputes was lessened when tobacco companies took down billboards across the country last year as part of a massive settlement with the states.
But advertising companies said New York City's and Chicago's ordinances go further by also prohibiting cigarette ads at retail stores. The companies said many cities have set varying limits on tobacco ads that are a ``significant burden'' on advertisers.
Advertisers sued New York City and Chicago, and in each case a federal judge decided the ordinances were pre-empted by a 1969 federal law that requires health warning labels on cigarette packages and bars broadcast cigarette advertising.
The federal law says states cannot enact any prohibition ``based on smoking and health ... with respect to the advertising or promotion of any cigarettes.''
Federal appeals courts reversed the trial judges, and said the 1969 federal law lets cities restrict outdoor tobacco ads.
The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the Chicago ordinance merely restricted the location of advertising and therefore was within local police power. Otherwise, the appeals court said, states could not bar tobacco companies from handing out free cigarettes in schoolyards.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a similar ruling in the New York City case. Both appeals courts did invalidate one provision and allowed stores to have a generic sign indicating that they sell cigarettes.
The appeals courts ordered the trial judges to consider the advertisers' argument that the ordinances violated their constitutional free-speech rights.
In the appeals acted on today, the advertisers' lawyers said the 1969 law is written broadly enough to pre-empt local rules on outdoor cigarette advertising.
The cities' lawyers said the appeals were premature because trial judges had not yet considered the free-speech question.
The cases are Greater New York Metropolitan Food Council vs. Giuliani, 99-1171, and Federation of Advertising Industry Representatives vs. Chicago, 99-1172.