Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson


Olympia -  Attorney General Christine Gregoire has asked the full Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse a three-judge panel that threw out the Tacoma-Pierce County Board of Health's tobacco outdoor advertising regulation in November 1999.

"The panel’s decision potentially affects advertising regulations by several county health departments representing two-thirds of the state population," Gregoire said. "The court's ruling was out of step with three other federal courts, and I have asked the full Ninth Circuit to reverse the three-judge panel and let the Tacoma-Pierce County Board of Health do its job."

In 1999, tobacco retailers challenged the decision by the Tacoma-Pierce Co. Board of Health to ban all tobacco advertising that is visible from outdoors.

Previously, federal courts upheld similar regulations in New York, Baltimore and Chicago. But in November, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit ruled against Tacoma-Pierce County, holding that it overstepped its bounds by going farther than Congress had allowed.

In late December, the Ninth Circuit took the unusual step of asking both the retailers and the county to file briefs stating whether they thought the full Ninth Circuit should review the decision by the three-judge panel. The Tacoma-Pierce County Board of Health filed a brief asking the full panel to review the decision, and Gregoire last week filed a "friend of the court" brief written by her office and signed by 18 other state attorneys generals, supporting the right of local governments to regulate tobacco advertising.

The advertising ban remains in effect in Pierce County until further order of the court.