State Can Ban Alcohol Ads in College Newspapers, Court Rules

The state of Virginia's alcohol regulatory board was within
its rights to ban college newspapers from running alcohol-related
advertising, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has ruled.

Inside Higher Ed
reported April 12 that the court ruled 2-1 to reverse a lower-court
decision that had favored the student newspapers at Virginia Tech and
the University of Virginia. The newspapers, The Collegiate Times and
the Cavalier Daily, had sued the state over the ban, which they said
violated the First Amendment and would cost them $30,000 in ad revenues
annually.

The Virginia alcohol board said the ban was needed to prevent
illegal underage drinking and other dangerous alcohol use by college
students. The majority on the appeals court agreed.

"[A]lcohol vendors want to advertise in college student
publications. It is counterintuitive for alcohol vendors to spend their
money on advertisements in newspapers with relatively limited
circulation, directed primarily at college students, if they believed
that these ads would not increase demand by college students,"
according to the decision. "The college newspapers fail to provide
evidence to specifically contradict this link or to recognize the
distinction between ads in mass media and those in targeted local
media."