April 23, 2009

Clark Rector Jr., Senior Vice President – State Government Affairs
Robert Kohlmeyer, Manager – Government Affairs

Senate To Consider Tobacco Regulation Bill

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has put the House-passed version of the tobacco regulation bill on the legislative calendar and expects consideration of the measure before Memorial Day. H.R. 1256, the Family Smoking and Tobacco Control Act, contains several provisions especially onerous to advertising. The bill would 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 an in-ad 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. The AAF opposes the bill because we believe the legislation gives the wrong federal agency illegal and ineffective authority over tobacco advertising. After a similar bill passed the House in 2008, Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., threatened a filibuster, and the Senate never considered the measure.
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House Financial Services Committee Approves Bill Tightening Credit Card Marketing Rules

By a 48–19 vote, the House Financial Services Committee has approved a bill that would tighten several credit card regulations, including barring the marketing of credit cards to minors. H.R. 627, introduced by Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., would require prior notice before credit card issuers could increase interest rates, and lower fees for late payments and other penalties. President Barack Obama has indicated his support of the bill. The Senate Banking, House and Urban Affairs Committee approved a similar bill (S. 414) in March by a much closer vote, 12–11. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the full House will begin consideration of H.R. 627 next week.
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FTC Chairman Appoints New Bureau of Consumer Protection Director

Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz has appointed David C. Vladeck as director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection. Vladeck has been a law professor at Georgetown University Law Center and spent nearly 30 years at the Public Citizen Litigation Group including 10 years as its director. The Bureau of Consumer Protection was established to protect consumers against unfair or deceptive acts or practices in commerce. The bureau enforces federal consumer affairs laws and rules enacted by the FTC.
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AAF Hosts Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa

On April 22, the AAF hosted a meet and greet with Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa. Members of the advertising industry discussed consumer protection, privacy, and a new proposed study on food marketing to children. Braley, a new member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said he has “deep respect for the First Amendment” and does not support prior government restraint on truthful commercial speech, stressing the importance of transparency. He stated that childhood obesity is a top priority, and said that government and industry must be proactive in coming up with solutions that make sense.
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