Q&A: Ad for tobacco product

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From the Spencer Evening World:

Q: The newspaper has an opportunity to publish a full-page ad for a tobacco product, specifically “snuff.” Is there a legal reason why we should not do so? The company has indicated a disclaimer will be printed in the ad. 

A: Tobacco remains a legal product, so there isn’t a problem with the newspaper running an ad for a tobacco product. If the ad is from a manufacturer or wholesaler of cigarettes or other tobacco products, it should include a Surgeon General’s warning.

If it doesn’t have a warning, ask the ad agency about the need for such a disclaimer. If they say the ad is OK as is, remember that the liability for not running the disclaimer would fall on the advertiser, not the newspaper, so you still could run it.

In that case, I suggest you keep a copy of the email exchange so you have proof if asked that you were assured it wasn’t needed. However, it sounds like the agency already recognizes the need for the warning label.

Contact Steve Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel, with media law questions at skey@hspa.com or (317) 624-4427.

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