Davis Unveils Four New Anti-Tobacco Advertisements
Gov. Gray Davis (D) yesterday unveiled four new state-produced anti-tobacco advertisements, one week after two of the nation's largest tobacco companies filed a lawsuit that seeks an injunction against the ads, the AP/Contra Costa Times reports (Schiller, AP/Contra Costa Times, 4/8). Two of the new ads, which will air this spring, feature tobacco company executives "laughing as they discuss how their company targets rebellious teenagers" and adults who frequent bars; a third ad disputes the claim that "light" cigarettes have less "bad stuff" than regular cigarettes and a fourth ad asks individuals who smoke "occasionally" to admit that they are smokers, the Los Angeles Times reports. "Research shows that the more aggressive the commercials, the greater the decline in smoking. We intend to continue to be hard-hitting," Davis said (Chong/Morain, Los Angeles Times, 4/8). The lawsuit, filed by R.J. Reynolds and Lorillard last week in Sacramento federal court, alleges that the state violated the constitutional rights of the companies. The lawsuit alleges that the ads inaccurately portray tobacco company employees and executives and damage the reputation of the companies in violation of the first amendment. In addition, the lawsuit alleges that California has violated the right that tobacco companies have to a fair trial and has denied their right to due process because the state does not allow the companies to question the validity of the ads. The ads, produced by the Department of Health Services, are funded with a 25-cent-per-pack state tax on cigarettes approved by California voters in 1988 as Proposition 99, which established the Cigarette and Tobacco Products Surtax Fund (California Healthline, 4/3).
Anti-tobacco advocates praised the ads. "The industry is running scared because they know what we know -- the state's comprehensive tobacco control efforts, including the media campaign, work," Charles Smith of the said. R.J. Reynolds spokesperson Thomas Payne said that he could not comment on the ads because he had not seen them. However, he said that the company does not seek to block "any type of ad that talks about the risks or the health consequences of smoking," provided that they do not "step beyond the bounds of Proposition 99 and attack or vilify the tobacco manufacturers or their employees" ( Los Angeles Times, 4/8).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.