A number of advertising lobby groups have allied to fight the US Justice Department’s proposed curbs on tobacco marketing, which they brand as “draconian”.

Attorney general John Ashcroft will receive a letter in the next two weeks from the Freedom to Advertise Coalition – whose members include the American Association of Advertising Agencies, the Association of National Advertisers and the American Advertising Federation – arguing that the measures are harsh, and possibly unconstitutional.

As revealed last week, the Justice Department’s proposed restrictions are connected with a lawsuit it is waging against tobacco manufacturers [WAMN: 11-Mar-02].

If the federal body wins, it will, among other things, insist that all tobacco ads are in monochrome, introduce graphic health warnings on packaging and force tobacco firms to reveal all their -previous and present marketing plans to the government.

“I certainly can’t think of any precedent for this,” declared Penelope Farthing, attorney for the coalition. “This goes far beyond the Clinton administration's proposals to restrict tobacco ads and is well beyond any legislative attempts made on Capitol Hill.”

Similar sentiments were voiced by the ANA’s executive vice president for government relations, Dan Jaffe, who blasted the proposals as “a true definition of draconian regulation.” The measures, he argued, are also unconstitutional, since tobacco remains a legal substance.

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