Federal Communications Law Journal

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Publication Citation

47 Federal Communications Law Journal 593 (1995)


RJR Nabisco's cigarette advertising icon "Joe Camel" has become one of the most-recognized marketing mascots in America. Unfortunately, the debonair cartoon character attracts recognition, and cigarette buyers, among children. The huge popularity of the advertising campaign among an arguably inappropriate market prompted action by both legislators and the Federal Trade Commission. However, 1990 legislation did not pass the committee stage, and the FTC ended its investigation of the questionable effect the advertising had on children in 1994.

Although the FTC chose not to limit or ban RJR Nabisco's use of Old Joe, this Note contends that regulation was within the agency's proper role. After analyzing the history of the FTC's statutory authority to regulate and the rationale behind such regulation, the Note explores current constitutional standards of regulation of commercial speech. Finally, the Note concludes that, under current regulatory standards and constitutional limitations, a ban on advertising could have withstood statutory and constitutional challenges.