California Supreme Court Bars State From Banning Cigarette Advertisements
The California Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the state cannot regulate cigarette advertising allegedly aimed at minors, a regulatory role the court said belonged to the federal government, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle, 8/3).
The court upheld two lower court rulings dismissing a 1998 class-action lawsuit in which the plaintiffs alleged that they began smoking as minors because of marketing efforts by tobacco companies.
Justice Joyce Kennard wrote that because the plaintiffs failed to show evidence that the advertisements were misleading and targeted exclusively to children, federal cigarette labeling laws and tobacco companies' First Amendment rights authorize the marketing campaigns (AP/Los Angeles Times, 8/3).
Thursday's ruling, however, will not affect a settlement in the lawsuit between state governments and six tobacco companies that included a ban on advertising, promotion or marketing directed at minors.
The ruling is in keeping with a 2001 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned a Massachusetts law banning tobacco billboards within 1,000 feet of a school, park or playground. The court said the ban was beyond the state's authority because it was based on concerns about smoking and health (San Francisco Chronicle, 8/3).