Industry to Kennedy: Restrict Us Not

Senators Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. and John Cornyn, R-Texas, along with 29 sponsors from both sides of the aisle, recently introduced a bill designed to significantly restrict tobacco advertising–particularly to minors–by giving the FDA authority over the product’s marketing.
In the House, Reps. Henry Waxman D-Calif., and Tom Davis, R-Va., introduced a similar measure with nearly 100 co-sponsors, and that number is expected to grow.
Ad Age looks at the ad industry’s repsonse.

Ad groups are pinning the “unconstitutional” label on Sen. Edward Kennedy’s bid to let the Food and Drug Administration regulate tobacco and to impose a decade-old plan that imposes draconian marketing curbs on tobacco advertising.
“While the government has a legitimate interest in fighting the use of tobacco products by minors, the FDA’s proposed regulations sweep far too broadly and result in massive censorship of truthful speech aimed at adults,” the Association of National Advertisers, the American Advertising Federation and American Association of Advertising Agencies said in the letter.

According to Forbes, Kennedy said, “FDA action can play a major role in breaking the gruesome cycle that seduces millions of teenagers into a lifetime of addiction and premature death.”
An earlier Forbes piece from Feb. 19 explains the twisted logic behind Phillip Morris’ support for the bill.

Philip Morris USA, a subsidiary of Altria Group and the nation’s largest cigarette manufacturer, with a 50.3% market share, roundly supports the bill. The company says FDA regulation would create a national tobacco policy, providing clear standards for the industry.
But just about everyone else in the industry is worried that the bill would diminish tobacco companies’ current advertising clout, putting them at a disadvantage compared with Philip Morris, which owns the ubiquitous Marlboro brand.

The thinking is diminished advertising allows Marlboro to “lock in” its market share. In fact, RJ Reynold’s has refered to the bill as “The Marlboro Monopoly Act.”
[FULL DISCLOSURE: I work on RJR’s Camel brand at BFG Communications. Therefore, I have more than a passing interest in this legal development.]

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. Are smokes good for you? No. But they ARE legal, for anyone over 18. Booze isn’t good for you either. Or trans fats. Or unprotected sex. Or Payton Manning commercials.
    The thing that always gets my skirt in a bunch is that the same people who seem to worship Europeans (why can’t WE run that spot with the naked woman having sex with a sheep on top of a naked cowboy who’s eating ice cream?) are so anti-smoking. Hey, news flash: Europeans think our smoking laws are ridiculous.

  2. Heroin or meth doesn’t advertise, and business seems to be pretty good. Like Denis Leary Said: they’re a drug, we’re addicted. Outlaw them and we’ll break into your houses to steal them.“
    I think the WOM crowd has done a good job of getting the word out so that even if you ban cig ads, people we’ll still buy in droves.

  3. I should just clarify that I don’t smoke and apparently can’t spell either: (…or meth don’t advertise…)