Vice Squad
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
Tennessee's Alcohol Ad Restrictions

The office of the Tennessee Attorney General has issued an opinion that many of the state's controls on alcohol advertising violate the US Constitution. Among the questionable rules are bans on distilled spirits advertising on television and radio.

As a matter of Constitutional law, the AG is probably correct; the opinion is here (5 page pdf). It relies on various recent US Supreme Court decisions, including the 1995 case of Rubin v. Coors. This string of cases seems to suggest that the advertising of legal vice products will receive about the same amount of Constitutional protection as any commercial speech. As the loyal Vice Squad reader knows, I view the lack of control over advertising as dangerous for the continued tolerance of legal vice -- states can always outlaw the advertising if they first prohibit alcohol.

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