Pennsylvania attorney general drops fight against alcohol ads

Pennsylvania Attorney General spokesman Scott Connelly announced late last month that the office will not appeal a federal court decision striking down a 1996 state law banning alcohol ads in student publications.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled July 29 that Act 199, which imposed fines on businesses that advertised alcohol in student publications, was unconstitutional. The court said it placed an unfair financial burden on a small part of the media.

Although fines only applied to businesses – not newspapers – thousands of dollars in ad revenue were lost annually.

At least two of Pennsylvania’s largest student newspapers – Penn State University’s Daily Collegian and the University of Pittsburgh’s Pitt News have reported an increase in advertising sales following the end of the successful five-year legal battle.

Vic Walczak, an ACLU attorney who represented the students, said the district court’s ruling marks the end of a drawn-out battle.

“It is over,” he said. “The fat lady has sung.”