Group Says KY Court Decision Deals Blow to Big Tobacco

LOUISVILLE, Ken. – A federal judge in Kentucky has upheld the majority of tobacco advertising restrictions held within the state’s Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. The decision will bring strict new limits on how tobacco companies can advertise and sell their products, according to an anti-smoking coalition based in Louisville.

Paul Kiser, tobacco control advocate with Kentucky Action, says one major component of the decision requires cigarette makers to dedicate a larger space on every pack to messages that tell smokers cigarettes are bad for them.

“The top half of the front and back of each cigarette package will now be a very colorful, very obvious, very graphic representation of the fact that tobacco kills.”

The court decision also includes a ban on tobacco company merchandise, which Kiser says has been prevalent with some brands over the years.

“No more Marlboro caps or t-shirts. There is no more Camel CD players, Kool anything. All products and any merchandise can no longer be branded with tobacco products.”

Even with the judge’s ruling, Kiser says one thing hasn’t changed; the tobacco industry’s standing as a master of marketing.

“They’re going to find ways to market their products to kids, which is what it all comes down to. And, that’s what the FDA was striving to reduce; their recruitment of new smokers.”

In his 47-page ruling, federal Judge Joseph McKinley, Jr. upheld the FDA’s authority to restrict tobacco marketing. He also upheld a ban on marketing tobacco to children. The ruling prohibits tobacco companies from making health claims about their products without FDA review, and bars them from sponsoring activities ranging from sporting events to poker tournaments. However, the judge ruled against two elements of the legislation; one would have banned the use of color and imagery in tobacco ads that kids are likely to see, and another that would have banned any claims a tobacco product is “safer” based on FDA approval. It’s not clear if either side in the tobacco battle plans to appeal any part of the ruling.