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Billboards with banned ads still in place after 4 years

A landmark local ban of tobacco and liquor advertising billboards has been in place for four years.

Number of billboards affected so far: zero."We still get calls saying, `When are these billboards coming down?' " said Mary Lou Kline, chairwoman of the Baltimore City-wide Liquor Coalition, the group that pushed for the ban. "Sometimes I want to go blow them up."

The U.S. Supreme Court let the ordinance stand last spring, and jurisdictions all over the country set out to follow Baltimore's example, said Kathleen Scheg, legislative counsel to Action on Smoking and Health in Washington.

But with appeals, exemptions and mobile billboards, the tobacco and alcohol industries are finding ways to beat the ban, Scheg said.

R.J. Reynolds spokeswoman Carole Crosslin said the company has used mobile ads - such as on cabs or large trucks - since 1992 and denied that they are intended to evade the ban.