Creating a wholesale set of regulations on everything from sugar-coated cereals to Viagra would fail the test.
And unlike cigarettes, a confirmed addictive drug that causes a host of diseases, there is no such evidence of inherent danger in junk food and no scientific link that limiting advertising of Captain Crunch will reduce childhood obesity.
Besides the constitutional problems, attempts at broad regulation of advertising in today’s world would be ineffective and impossible to police. Kids often spend as much or more time on the computer and Internet as they do watching TV. With Web pages — and ads — streaming in from around the world, regulations would simply put other media at a disadvantage over competitors.
Parents have a right to worry about the advertising their children see, but it’s not the government’s job to be an obtrusive gatekeeper to shield kids from legal commercial speech.