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ANA Mounts Suit to Block Tobacco Legislation-AdAge

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Nearly a half-dozen entities, including the Association of National Advertisers, are aiming to block legislation passed last week to give the Food and Drug Administration regulatory control over the packaging, manufacturing and marketing of tobacco products.

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The ANA sent a similar letter. Dan Jaffe, exec VP-government relations at ANA, said he expects one of the tobacco companies to take the lead. "It is likely that some of the tobacco companies will challenge some of the legalities of these restrictions and the ANA will have to decide how to go forward. But we will play a role," Mr. Jaffe said. "This creates a substantial precedent that will affect other marketing categories."

Back seat for ANA

The major tobacco companies, including Altria Group's Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds and Lorillard, have all declined to comment on whether they will file suit. Lorillard has in the past come out strongly in opposition of FDA regulation, but Philip Morris, which only stands to benefit from frozen market share that would result from such ad curbs, has been a lot less vocal on the issue.

From a political perspective, it makes sense for the ANA to take somewhat of a backseat, as its interest isn't in protecting tobacco but preventing a such a precedent from spilling over to other less-polarizing advertisers.

Mr. Jaffe said specifically that the regulations on banning advertising within 1,000 feet of schools and playgrounds, as well as tobacco-brand sponsorships of sports and entertainment events, "are highly likely to be found unconstitutional. The bill is supposed to curtail youth smoking. If a cultural or sporting event is provided only to adults, how can you justify the advertising restrictions? These provisions were not adequately looked at when the bill was written."

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