United States Supreme Court rejects tobacco companies' complaint about ads

The Supreme Court refused on Tuesday to hear an appeal by two tobacco companies who claimed tough anti-smoking ads paid for by California 's state government smeared their reputations.

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Lorillard Tobacco Co. had asked the justices to overturn a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision that rejected the companies' claims that their First Amendment rights were violated by California's ad campaign.

California uses part of an 87-cent tax on every package of cigarettes to finance health education that includes a campaign to discourage smoking.

The ads included a scene where cigarettes rained down on children playing in a schoolyard as a voice, purportedly of a tobacco executive, announced, "We have to sell cigarettes to your kids. We need half a million new smokers a year just to stay in business. ... It's nothing personal. You understand."

The companies objected to the state's use of revenue from taxes on cigarettes, effectively forcing the tobacco industry to pay to vilify itself, reports the AP.

D.M.

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