U.S. May Seek Tough Restrictions On Cigarette Marketing

By Agence France-Presse The Justice Department is now pressing for tough restrictions on the tobacco industry as part of a massive lawsuit, including an end to marketing promotions and limits on print advertising, according to documents released March 12. The move would mark a hardening of the position of the administration of President George W. Bush, which last year hinted it might seek an out-of-court settlement in the case filed in 1999 by the Clinton administration. According to a government brief drafted but not yet filed in court, the proposal would limit cigarette ads to "black and white print formats" in all forms of media. This would end any use of "lifestyle" ads showing people smoking, which are seen as a way of attracting young people. The government is seeking to end the ads in which "cigarette smoking is portrayed as an integral part of youth, happiness, attractiveness, vigor and other positive lifestyles," according to the document, obtained from tobacco giant Philip Morris. The proposal also would ban giveaways of merchandise that contains company logos and restrict cigarette packaging to black and white. The federal government, which pays an estimated $20 billion per year to treat smoking-related illnesses, filed its action in 1999 after the tobacco industry reached a landmark $246 billion settlement with the states. A federal judge dismissed part of the case but allowed the government to sue under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act -- alleging that the industry hid evidence that nicotine is addictive and that smoking is unhealthy. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2002

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