As summer and the 4th of July approaches, out of state fireworks vendors look to buy time on Iowa stations. The IBA Legal Hotline receives numerous calls each year asking if it is “legal” to advertise the sale of fireworks in Iowa.
Under Iowa law it is a simple misdemeanor if anyone “offers for sale, exposes for sale, sells at retail, or uses or explodes any fireworks.” However, there is no statute in Iowa that prohibits the “advertising” of fireworks for sale either in the newspaper or by broadcasters. Some have questioned whether the language in the statute that says it is illegal for anyone to “offer” fireworks for sale means they cannot be advertised. In other words, does a broadcaster “offer” fireworks for sale because there is an advertisement on the air? We believe that the better answer is that there is no prohibition against the airing of any advertisements for the sale of fireworks and that the term “offer for sale” specifically refers to the persons selling the products, not the entity that carries the advertisement.
There may be a “public policy” reason a broadcaster may chose to not air these advertisements—some believe that advertisement of an illegal activity is generally a bad idea. However, there is no legal reason an Iowa broadcaster cannot accept advertisements from out of state fireworks vendors.
– From the IBA Legal Hotline