Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Right to Free Speech

Altria Group and Reynolds American both cited liberty of speech to the U.S. Constitution as the reason behind a civil legal proceeding looking to reverse a coming ban on displaying smoking products in stores in the Rockland County, N.Y. According to a source, Lorillard, Philip Morris USA and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco have filled the suit on June 27.
Respondents in the legal proceeding are the village agencies and representatives that were attributed the responsibility for introducing the cigarette display ban once it becomes effective in October 2012. Calling the ban as “an evident attack on the content of tobacco advertising” that infringes their First Amendment right to free speech, they required the court to name the local law unconstitutional and prohibit the Hudson Valley village to implement it. The village board passed similar ban in April, declaring that the sight of packages of cigarettes on a store shelf attracts teenagers to this habit.
According to the law, retail stores could proceed to sell tobacco products, without displaying it, and instead giving age-verified clients, only after request, a price of tobacco products to order from. “Philip Morris and Reynolds American are trying to challenge a currently adopted local law that stops retailers from displaying smoking products in their stores. If passed, this local law would infringe free speech rights by prohibiting cigarette manufacturers and retailers from advertising adult smokers about the varieties, prices of their tobacco product brands,” David Sutton, representative of the Richmond, Va.-based Altria, declared in an interview.
Bryan D. Hatchell, representative for R.J. Reynolds stated that: “We think that this new law prohibiting the display of smoking products is not concordant with monitoring Supreme Court decisions under the First Amendment, and we starting this legal proceeding first of all to protect our First Amendment rights. This law is not about keeping youngsters from smoking, but it is probably about banning advertisement of a legal product to adults who enjoy smoking.” “All retailers have a full right to communicate with their customers about the brands they offer by displaying those cigarettes within their own premises,” added James Calvin, the New York Association of Convenience Stores president.