Cite as: 517 U. S. 484 (1996)
Opinion of Stevens, J.
serve a predominantly free enterprise economy, the allocation of our resources in large measure will be made through numerous private economic decisions. It is a matter of public interest that those decisions, in the aggregate, be intelligent and well informed. To this end, the free flow of commercial information is indispensable." 425 U. S., at 765.7
The opinion further explained that a State's paternalistic assumption that the public will use truthful, nonmisleading commercial information unwisely cannot justify a decision to suppress it:
"There is, of course, an alternative to this highly paternalistic approach. That alternative is to assume that this information is not in itself harmful, that people will perceive their own best interests if only they are well enough informed, and that the best means to that end is to open the channels of communication rather than to close them. If they are truly open, nothing prevents the 'professional' pharmacist from marketing his own assertedly superior product, and contrasting it with that of the low-cost, high-volume prescription drug retailer. But the choice among these alternative approaches is not ours to make or the Virginia General Assembly's. It is precisely this kind of choice, between the dangers of suppressing information, and the dangers of its misuse if it is freely available, that the First Amendment makes for us." Id., at 770.
On the basis of these principles, our early cases uniformly struck down several broadly based bans on truthful, nonmis-leading commercial speech, each of which served ends unre-7 By contrast, the First Amendment does not protect commercial speech about unlawful activities. See Pittsburgh Press Co. v. Pittsburgh Comm'n on Human Relations, 413 U. S. 376 (1973).
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