March 19, 2009

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

House Oversight Committee Approves Tobacco Advertising Restrictions Bill

The House Oversight and Government Reform 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 has already been approved by the Energy and Commerce Committee and will next be considered by the full House, possibly as early as next week. The AAF has condemned the proposal, stating that “the legislation gives the wrong federal agency illegal and ineffective authority over tobacco advertising.” A copy of our media alert is available here.
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California Digital Billboard Moratorium Passes Assembly Committee

The California Assembly Judiciary Committee has approved a bill that would impose a two-year moratorium on the construction of digital billboards of the conversion of standard billboards to digital in the state. Introduced by Assemblyman Mike Feuer, D-Los Angeles, Assembly Bill 109 has now been referred to the Assembly’s Governmental Organization Committee. The AAF believes that digital billboards are important assets for emergency and public safety communication. They generate jobs and revenue, and there are no documented safety issues with their implementation. The AAF sent an alert to its California members, which is available here.
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DTC Advertising Ban Introduced in Wisconsin Legislation

Wisconsin Representative Gary Sherman, D-Port Wing, has introduced a bill prohibiting direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs in the state. Assembly Bill 56 would not apply to ads that are broadcast or mailed from outside the state. The text of the bill accuses DTC advertising of undermining the efforts of the Wisconsin government to protect the health and welfare of its citizens. The AAF believes that the proposal violates the First Amendment protection for commercial speech. Consumers benefit from DTC advertising, which studies show encourages patients to seek information from health care providers. Moreover, local businesses would suffer, as advertising efforts would simply shift to neighboring states.
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