HR 1108 has made it through the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. The bill, "Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act," was introduced by Henry Waxman (D-CA) with the full backing of committee chair John Dingell (D-MI). The bill gives the Secretary of Health and Human Services wide power to regulate tobacco products via the Food and Drug Administration, and it made it through the committee with a 38-12 vote.
Among the bill’s provisions, it allows the Secretary "…to restrict the sale or distribution of tobacco products, including advertising and promotion."
RBR/TVBR observation: What? No more cigarette ads on TV or radio? No doctors testifying on the effectiveness of a revolutionary new filter? Just like that, an entire ad category goes away? What an outra…..what’s that? Not for that long, huh? OK. Never mind — there are no broadcast tobacco ads, other than the sneaky product placement kind, and even they seem pretty rare these days.
Advertising free speech issues come up all the time, and generally we are of the opinion that if a product is legal, it should be legal to advertise and promote it. That argument is pretty hard to make when the topic is tobacco, however. Several of us at RBR have managed to kick the smoking habit, and we’re well aware that it would have been better never to have started it.
So we will not support legal tobacco advertising. In fact, according to the E&C Committee, Philip Morris and U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company actually support this legislation, and the National Association of Convenience Stores has withdrawn opposition. However, if you have an argument in favor of tobacco advertising, we’d love to hear it.