AAF Continues Fight

Legislative Activity

AAF Continues Fight Against Unconstitutional Ad Bans

The American Advertising Federation continued its battle against the flood of cities imposing restrictions on outdoor advertising for alcoholic beverage and tobacco products.

In October, AAF representatives testified against limitations on outdoor advertising for tobacco products in Albany, NY, San Francisco, CA, and Burlington, VT.

Earlier this year, AAF lobbied local governments in Chicago, New York City and Springfield, MO. In addition, AAF is fighting a U.S. Senate amendment that would impose severe limits on outdoor advertising for alcoholic beverages in Washington, DC.

The AAF's position in all these cases is clear: Any government-imposed restriction on truthful advertising for a legal product is unconstitutional, because it violates the First Amendment right of commercial speech.

Further, AAF believes none of the legislation introduced thus far can pass the so-called Central Hudson test established by the U.S. Supreme Court. In the Central Hudson case, the Court ruled that any government restriction on truthful speech can only be allowed if there is a substantial government interest, if the restrictions directly advance that interest, and if the restriction is narrowly tailored.

"In applying this test, the Supreme Court has regularly rejected attempts to justify broad prohibitions on various forms of commercial speech, even if they were justified by the need to protect children," AAF Senior Vice President-Government Affairs Jeff Perlman commented.

AAF President and CEO Wally Snyderpointed out that if these local governments really want to stop underage smoking and drinking -- as many have claimed is the reason for their proposals -- they should focus their efforts on curbing youths' access to these products.