City Solicitor David Moore appeared on WBUR’s Radio Boston yesterday to discuss the tobacco advertising ban. Some highlights:
In response to a question about infringing on first amendment rights, Moore responded, “I understand the argument. I think when you look at first amendment law, the courts do allow government enactments to infringe on first amendment rights when there’s substantial interest. The interest of the City of Worcester with this ordinance is reducing tobacco consumption by its entire population and thereby reducing devastating health effects and death caused by the use of this product.”
In response to a question about how precedents were not in the city’s favor, Moore responded, “We certainly agree it’s a tough battle. The difference between the 2001 case that overturned the attorney general’s regulations on 1000 feet of a school is at that point the state’s interest could only by law be the protection of minors from doing tobacco. What Congress did in 2009 is remove that preemption and allow states and cities to regulate tobacco out of concerns for smoking and health for the entire population. So that’s where the city’s somewhat broader ban … stands on those grounds.”
Then what’s next – what about banning street-level advertising for soda or candy?
Moore’s response: “I think the slippery slope argument doesn’t hold because under first amendment analysis, you have to weigh the advertising restriction, or whatever the ordinance may be, against the problem and there’s 435,000 people a year in this country [who] die as a result of cigarettes. As I said, there’s no product that can match this. I don’t think there’s any concern that this would be expanded to far lesser products.”
The show goes on for about 15 minutes after Moore’s bit, and it’s well worth a listen; it includes an attorney who says that the odds are against Worcester.
(Photo: cigarette, a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic image from Raul Lieberwirth‘s photostream.)