A Senate committee is trying to include restrictions on cigarette marketing within legislation to bring the tobacco industry under the remit of the Food and Drug Administration.

The proposed rules would prohibit tobacco ads containing imagery from all magazines with over 2 million readers aged under 18 and any title with over 15% youth readership. Other marketing and promotion restrictions are included, such as a ban on colour point-of-sale material.

These regulations are identical to those the FDA tried to introduce in 1996. However, following legal action from advertising and media groups, the Supreme Court ruled two years ago that the federal agency lacked the authority to enforce the tobacco rules.

Now the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, led by senator Ted Kennedy (Democrat, Massachusetts), is working to reintroduce the restrictions with immediate effect in a bill giving the FDA the authority it needs.

In addition, the committee wants to impose new rules, such as requirements for bigger health warnings.

Although the number of ads the restrictions would affect has declined in recent years through voluntary action by tobacco firms, ad groups expressed vehement opposition to the proposals, claiming they infringe the First Amendment.

“The size of the business doesn't matter. It is the principle," blasted Jeff Perlman, senior vp of the American Advertising Federation. “It doesn't matter if it is $3 a year in advertising if what you are trying to do is unconstitutionally limit speech.”

However, tobacco manufacturers seemed less concerned. Indeed, Philip Morris supports the restrictions. Said Mark Berlind, associate general counsel for the firm’s government affairs unit: “We think it would be good for the industry and good for Philip Morris USA to have clear rules that they could follow.”

Data sourced from: AdAge.com; additional content by WARC staff