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Federal Advertising Law: An Overview

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Publication Date: December 2003

Publisher(s): Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service

Series: RL32177

Topic: Business (Advertising and public relations)


This report provides a brief overview of federal law with respect to six selected advertising issues: alcohol advertising, tobacco advertising, the Federal Trade Commission Act, advertising by mail, advertising by telephone, and commercial e-mail (spam). There are numerous federal statutes regulating advertising that do not fit within any of these categories. As random examples, the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act requires disclosures in advertisements for prescription drugs; the Truth in Lending Act governs the advertising of consumer credit; and a federal criminal statute makes it illegal falsely to convey in an advertisement that a business is connected with a federal agency.