State & Local Tobacco Advertising and Marketing Restrictions

The Issue:

Various state and local governments have proposed new restrictions or bans on tobacco advertising and marketing at the point of sale. For example:

  • A New York City law, currently pending judicial review, requires tobacco sellers to post graphic images of diseased teeth and gums, lungs and brains to deter people from buying cigarettes and other tobacco products.

  • Massachusetts proposed requiring tobacco retailers to place large graphic signs displaying the risks of tobacco use within 2 feet of their tobacco products sections and behind the counter, or face hefty fines.

  • The Buffalo, NY City Council proposed legislation banning many outdoor advertising displays for tobacco, as well as any tobacco advertising that uses colorful images. Instead, ads would be confined to black lettering on a white background, and stores also would have to post health warnings and information about services that help smokers to quit.

  • The Santa Clara, CA County Board of Supervisors passed a law prohibiting retailers from covering more than 15 percent of windows and clear doors with tobacco ads or signs.

Why Tobacco Advertising and Marketing Restrictions Matter to You

  • In today’s retail environment, signage and advertising space within a store – especially at the cash register or on or near the tobacco fixture – represents highly valued, revenue-generating space for retailers.

  • New federal, state and local restrictions will impact how you sell and market tobacco products in your stores.

  • State and local restrictions beyond those proposed by the FDA are not necessary and may subject your business to a myriad of different – and possibly conflicting – laws.

  • Additional advertising restrictions may be unconstitutional and set a bad precedent for how other products may be marketed.

  • Graphic warnings and advertising restrictions at the point of sale also would place additional burdens on retail establishments; especially small businesses, who already have to comply with a multitude of rigorous laws and requirements.