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SHORT ITEMS 05/19/97 FDA cannot restrict tobacco ads. In late April, a federal District Court in Greensboro, N.C. ruled that…

SHORT ITEMS

05/19/97

FDA cannot restrict tobacco ads. In late April, a federal District Court in Greensboro, N.C. ruled that the Food and Drug Administration can regulate tobacco but not tobacco advertising. The court held that the FDA does not have the statutory authority to restrict tobacco advertising and promotion.

Tobacco companies and advertising groups sued the FDA in August 1995 following the agency’s establishment of new regulations for the sale, distribution and advertising of tobacco products to children and adolescents. They contended that the regulations violated commercial speech rights protected under the First Amendment.

The cigarette companies have asked the U.S. Court of Appeals (4th Cir.) in Richmond to reconsider the District Court’s ruling. (Beahm v. FDA)

Supreme Court will not review Baltimore billboard ban. In late April the U.S Supreme Court turned down a request to hear a challenge to two Baltimore city ordinances prohibiting billboard advertising of cigarettes and alcoholic beverages in areas where children gather. The U.S. Court of Appeals (4th Cir.) had ruled in November 1996 that such a ban does not violate the free-speech rights of tobacco firms, breweries and distilleries after Anheuser-Busch and a Baltimore billboard company challenged the 1994 ordinances. (Anheuser-Busch v. Schmoke; Media counsel: Eric Rubin, Washington, D.C.)

California high court denies request for camera coverage. The California Supreme Court in San Francisco announced in early May that it would not allow camera coverage of a challenge to an abortion consent law, the Associated Press reported. The court has routinely rejected requests to allow cameras at its proceedings for about two years, court spokesperson Lynn Holton told AP.

State Judicial Council rules give judges the authority to decide whether or not to allow cameras in their courtrooms based on criteria such as the effect cameras would have on participants and on the “security and dignity of the court.”

The case before the high court concerns a constitutional challenge to a law that would require unmarried minors to obtain consent from a parent or approval from a judge before receiving an abortion. The court upheld the law last year but then voted to grant a rehearing. (American Academy of Pediatrics v. Lundgren)