March 5, 2009

Jeff Perlman, Chief Operating Officer
Clark Rector Jr., Senior Vice President – State Government Affairs
Robert Kohlmeyer, Manager – Government Affairs

Rep. Waxman Reintroduces Tobacco Advertising Legislation

The House Energy and Commerce Committee has approved a bill that would transfer authority of tobacco advertising from the Federal Trade Commission to the Food and Drug Administration. H.R. 1256, the Family Smoking and Tobacco Control Act, would also direct the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to publish an interim rule enacting unprecedented advertising restrictions, including requiring many tobacco ads to be black text on a white background, mandating a government-dictated "brief statement" (in addition to the current Surgeon General's warning), and banning all outdoor advertising for tobacco products within 1,000 feet of any elementary or secondary school or playground. Introduced by Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., the proposal is similar to a measure that passed the House last year, but was not considered by the Senate. An amendment introduced by Rep. Steve Buyer, R-Ind., would have removed most of the advertising restrictions in the bill and created a new program within the Department of Health and Human Services to regulate tobacco, rather than give the authority to the FDA. The AAF believes that advertising authority should remain with the FTC, the agency with the most experience and expertise in the regulation of consumer advertising. We are concerned that the advertising restrictions could be seen next in attacks on other forms of advertising, including alcohol, lotteries, food and even pharmaceuticals. The AAF sent a letter to members of the committee urging their opposition to the proposal, which is available here. Additionally, the AAF sent an alert to its members on the bill, available here, and a media alert condemning the proposal, available here.
Back to Top

Sens. Harkin, Brownback Seek Review of Food Marketing to Children

Senators Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Sam Brownback, R-Kan., have inserted language in the Omnibus Appropriations Bill currently before Congress that would create a new interagency group to examine food marketing to children. The group, led by the Federal Trade Commission, Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, would study existing efforts and develop recommendations for change. The AAF believes this effort is duplicative of the Federal Trade Commission's workshops examining progress made in food marketing efforts. The proposal also overlooks the outstanding self-regulatory work conducted by the Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative, led by 15 major food and beverage companies, as well as the National Advertising Review Council and the Children's Advertising Review Unit.
Back to Top

Obama Names New Commissioners at FTC and FCC

President Barack Obama has designated Federal Trade Commissioner Jon Leibowitz as the new FTC chairman. Leibowitz, a Democrat, was first named a commissioner in 2004. Recently, Leibowitz has scrutinized behavioral advertising practices, calling on industry "to do a better job of meaningful, rigorous self-regulation, or it will certainly invite legislation by Congress and a more regulatory approach by our commission." Because Leibowitz was already a commissioner, he does not require Senate confirmation in order to become chairman.

President Obama has nominated Julius Genachowski to chair the Federal Communications Commission. Genachowski was previously an adviser to Obama's campaign and worked at the FCC from 1994 to 1997 as chief counsel to the chairman and as special counsel.
Back to Top

AAF Sends Letter Opposing New York Behavioral Marketing Bill

The AAF and a broad industry coalition have written to the speaker of the New York Assembly to oppose a bill that would unfairly regulate online behavioral marketing in the state. Assembly Bill 1393, introduced by Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, D-Westchester, would establish strict guidelines regarding the collection of nonpersonally identifiable information, including disclosure and prior consent. In our letter, the AAF argues that behavioral marketing benefits consumers by making online content and services free of charge to end users. Consumers and marketers both benefit from receiving advertisements that are appropriately targeted. A copy of the letter is available here.
Back to Top

Florida Tax Committee May Consider Advertising Tax Exemption

Florida's House Finance and Tax Committee has released a list of 51 specific sales tax exemptions they will review in the upcoming legislative session, including several that will directly impact the advertising industry. In addition to removing the exemption on advertising services, the committee's list includes exemptions on newspaper and magazine subscriptions, film and printing supplies, certain printed materials and printing services for out-of-state customers providing their own paper. AAF – Fourth District has contacted the tax committee to oppose the consideration of any advertising-related service as a new revenue source and will continue to work closely with legislators in the coming weeks.
Back to Top

AAF Government Report is available to all members of the AAF. If you are interested in receiving an e-mailed copy, please e-mail

If you are interested in receiving AAF SmartBrief, an opt-in news service, please visit AAF SmartBrief condenses advertising industry news from dozens of media sources into a succinct, easy to read e-mail.

Go to the Government Affairs Main Page.