Tobacco Companies Suing Massachusetts
BOSTON (AP) -- Two tobacco companies filed federal lawsuits
today challenging a first-in-the-nation attempt by the Massachusetts
attorney general to restrict tobacco advertising.
Bill Porter, an assistant attorney general, said lawsuits were filed
by Philip Morris Cos. and Lorillard Tobacco Co., claiming that the
restrictions on cigarette advertising violated the First Amendment
and were pre-empted by federal law.
Additionally, Porter said he had been told by an industry attorney
that lawsuits were forthcoming from R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.
and Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., the other two largest
cigarette makers in the nation.
"The attorney general intends vigorously to defend these cases
and is firmly of the view that these regulations are lawful," Porter said.
The two provisions of the regulations being challenged by Philip
Morris would ban outdoor advertising of tobacco products near
schools and playgrounds and ban advertising for tobacco products
near schools inside retail stores if they're visible from outside. The
regulations are to go into effect in August.
Philip Morris spokesman Brendan McCormick said the company
challenged sections of the consumer regulations "which we feel
unduly restrict our right to market our products to adults who
choose to smoke."
McCormick insisted that Philip Morris wanted to combat youth
"The issue of youth smoking is one where we're all on the same
page. Philip Morris stands willing to work with anyone who shares
the goal of reducing the incidence of youth smoking," he said.
A message left for Lorillard attorney Richard Zielinski wasn't returned.
Massachusetts was one of 46 states that reached a settlement
with tobacco companies to resolve claims for the costs of treating
Source: Martin Finucane, AP, Friday, May 21, 1999; 9:17 p.m. EDT
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