Restriction on Tobacco Ads Upheld
BOSTON (AP) -- Federal tobacco laws do not prevent Massachusetts from prohibiting tobacco advertising near schools and playgrounds, a federal judge has ruled.
State Attorney General Tom Reilly in January banned outdoor advertising of cigarettes, cigars and smokeless tobacco within 1,000 feet of schools and playgrounds. The ban is scheduled to take effect Feb. 1, 2000.
Tobacco companies fought back, filing federal lawsuits claiming that the federal government, not the states, had the right to regulate tobacco advertising.
But in a decision released Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge William G. Young ruled that the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act, which mandates health warnings on cigarette packaging and advertising, does not prohibit states from regulating the location of tobacco advertising.
Young's ruling did not address the tobacco companies' claim that the state's advertising restriction violated their right to free speech. A ruling on that claim was expected by the end of January, Reilly said.
Reilly called Thursday's ruling an ``important victory in our efforts to restrict advertising directed toward young people.''
``These regulations eliminate a form of tobacco advertising that confronts our children each day as they walk to school or play in their neighborhoods,'' Reilly said.
Henry Dinger, an attorney for Philip Morris Inc., said, ``Philip Morris doesn't agree with the decision and is considering all of its legal options.''
Philip Morris was joined in the lawsuits by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Brown & Williamson Corp. and Lorillard Tobacco Co.