TOBACCO: Davis to Run Ads Yanked by Wilson
Gov. Gray Davis yesterday announced the state will begin running a new series of youth-targeted anti-tobacco ads, including one pulled by the Wilson administration for fear the tobacco industry would sue. The spot in question shows tobacco executives testifying before Congress that they do not believe cigarettes are addictive. The ad asks, "Do they think we're stupid?" Unveiled in 1994, but quickly terminated by Wilson, Davis said he saw no legal problems with the ad, "adding that he wants to hit the tobacco industry hard." He said, "We are in a race with tobacco. The race is between the health of Californians and tobacco's bottom line, and I intend to see that Californians finish first" (Gledhill, San Francisco Chronicle, 5/13). Davis added, "I believe the time has come to tell the truth. I believe it's time to stand up for California's children ... against the Joe Camels and Marlboro Men and other seductive messages of addiction" (release, 5/12). A spokesperson for Philip Morris said, "We don't believe these ads represent an accurate portrayal of our company, people or programs." She was unsure whether the company would pursue legal action (Chronicle, 5/13).
The administration is considering a second commercial as well, which claims that "two tobacco companies control insurance subsidiaries that grant discounts to nonsmokers on their premiums." Produced in 1995, however, the ads may be out-of-date. "If they're referring to British American Tobacco, they're wrong," said Joe Helewicz, spokesperson for Brown & Williamson Tobacco, a BAT affiliate to which the ad allegedly refers, noting that it spun off its insurance holdings. Administration official Susan Kennedy "said the commercial's release would be delayed until it can be verified or changed." Stanton Glantz, a medical school professor at UC-San Francisco, said the spots are "a huge step forward for the campaign. The release of the ads is a strong statement by this administration" (Morain, Los Angeles Times, 5/13).