Student Well-Being

FDA Plan To Ban Tobacco Sales to Minors Upheld

By Jessica Portner — May 07, 1997 2 min read

The federal Food and Drug Administration may regulate tobacco products but cannot restrict the industry’s advertising or promotional campaigns that many critics charge are directed at children, a federal judge has ruled.

In the April 25 decision in U.S. District Court in Greensboro, N.C., Judge William L. Osteen ruled--in the first such finding by a court--that tobacco products, which contain nicotine, are drug-delivery devices and can be regulated by the federal government.

Only days later, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a case challenging two 1994 Baltimore ordinances banning billboard advertising of alcohol and cigarettes.

Judge Osteen’s decision lets stand the FDA’s plan to impose a national prohibition on cigarette sales to minors. It grants the agency authority to require retailers to check the photo identification of persons younger than 27 who buy cigarettes. The court also left intact FDA regulations that mandate warning labels on cigarettes and bar cigarette vending machines from facilities frequented by minors.

“This is a historic and landmark day for the nation’s health and children,” President Clinton said in a statement.

Administration officials were disappointed, however, that the court chose to strike down FDA rules that would have limited advertising and marketing of tobacco products to minors. The judge blocked the FDA ban that would limit billboards within 1,000 feet of schools and playgrounds. He also rejected the government’s plan to restrict print publications with a substantial number of young readers from running color ads.

Plans To Appeal

While tobacco companies applauded the judge’s decision not to curtail their marketing, they said they would fight the decision that grants the FDA regulatory power over their products. “This is going to be a long haul,” said Peggy Carter, a spokeswoman for the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. in Winston-Salem, N.C.

The FDA is also planning to appeal the decision in an effort to reinstate the advertising restrictions. The administration was buoyed, meanwhile, by the Supreme Court’s April 28 announcement that it would not review the Baltimore case.

The high court’s action cleared the way for Baltimore to remove ads in certain areas of the city. Lawyers for the city said the move is intended to protect children from “any inducements to drink and smoke.”

The Baltimore case has emboldened the country’s largest city to curtail further cigarette advertising. Last week, the speaker of the New York City Council proposed barring cigarette ads on billboards, placards, and any other publicly visible sign located within 1,000 feet of a school, playground, or day-care center.

Related Tags:


School & District Management Live Event Education Week Leadership Symposium
Education Week's Premier Leadership Event for K12 School & District Leaders.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Law & Courts Webinar
The Future of Criminal Justice Reform: A Sphere Education Initiative Conversation
America’s criminal justice system is in crisis and calls for reform are dominating the national debate. Join Cato’s Sphere Education Initiative and Education Week for a webinar on criminal justice and policing featuring the nation’s
Content provided by Cato Institute
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
Equity, Care and Connection: New SEL Tools and Practices to Support Students and Adults
As school districts plan to welcome students back into buildings for the upcoming school year, this is the perfect time to take a hard look at both our practices and our systems to build a
Content provided by Panorama Education

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Whitepaper
The Complete Guide to SEL
This guide illustrates why SEL is more important now and what you should look for when implementing a social-emotional curriculum.
Content provided by Navigate360
Student Well-Being How Educators Are Approaching Summer Learning This Year
After a difficult year, schools adjust what's best for students as they customize summer learning, enrichment, and play opportunities.
9 min read
Image of kids with backpacks running outdoors.
Student Well-Being Cardona Releases First Wave of Aid to Help Schools Identify, Assist Homeless Students
Citing the urgency of identifying homeless students, the Education Department will release some relief aid targeted at their needs.
3 min read
Rycc Smith welcomes Montello Elementary School students as they board his bus outside the Lewiston, Maine school after the first day back in nearly a month on Jan. 21, 2021. The entire school district switched to all remote learning after an uptick in COVID-19 cases last month.
Elementary school students board a bus in Lewiston, Maine, after their first day back to in-person school in nearly a month on Jan. 21. Advocates say it has been more difficult to identify homelessness during remote learning, in part because they can't track changes in students' use of school transportation.
Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal via AP
Student Well-Being Spotlight Spotlight on Post-Pandemic Communications
In this Spotlight, review lessons from other leaders, evaluate what can be done to address the situations experienced and more.