BIG TOBACCO: Antismoking Ads Draw Philip Morris’ Ire
The American Legacy Foundation, created to oversee antismoking advertising and educational efforts after the national tobacco settlement, has pulled two of its first four television ads after hearing complaints from Philip Morris, the AP/Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The two ads are part of a $1.5 billion antismoking campaign. One of the ads featured teenagers outside a tobacco company building stacking 1,200 "body bags" meant to represent the number of people who die each day from tobacco-related illnesses. The second ad showed teenagers with a lie detector attempting to enter a tobacco company's offices to ask sales executives about how addictive smoking is, ending with the teenagers being escorted out by security. While no specific tobacco company was identified in either ad, the commercials were filmed inside and outside the Philip Morris Cos. Manhattan headquarters. Philip Morris representatives argued that the settlement "specified that the fund would not be used for personal attacks on an individual or company." While the two ads ran last week on the USA Network and Comedy Central, one network, CBS, refused to run the ads because "they crossed the line," according to spokesperson Dana McLintock. Washington state Attorney General Christine Gregoire, who led the states in negotiating the 1998 settlement and chairs the American Legacy Foundation, said that "several attorneys general had also raised objections." She added, "This is a distraction from the goal: to stop 3,000 kids a day from becoming addicted to tobacco. It was not worth being distracted by one or two ads with others in the arsenal." The foundation will not be deterred, as President and CEO Cheryl Healton said, "It is obvious we pushed a number of buttons, and we are going to keep pushing buttons." She said that the foundation "would try to rework the ads." The two other ads in the series are parodies of soft-drink and sneaker commercials that show one of three product user being "unexpectedly vaporized." The ads give the message: "Only one product actually kills a third of the people who use it. Tobacco" (Wollenberg, 2/16).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.