Wednesday, March 16, 2005

After the American Legacy Foundation Award: Time Inc.'s Contributions to Tobacco Control

Since the Feb. 28 ceremony at which the American Legacy Foundation honored Time Inc. for "progress in tobacco-free publications" and for "reaching millions with an anti-tobacco message" (see previous posting), here is an accounting of Time Inc.'s "contributions" to tobacco control:
  • People: two full-page Camel ads (Feb. 28 and March 14)
  • TIME: full-page Camel ad (March 14)
  • Sports Illustrated: full-page Camel ad (back cover) (Feb. 28)
  • Entertainment Weekly: 2-page Camel ad (March 11) and full-page Newport and Camel ads, 2 half-page Skoal ads (March 18)
  • Fortune: 2 half-page Skoal ads (March 21)
  • Money: full-page cigar ad, full-page Skoal ad (April)
In these 6 publications alone, and in just the 2 weeks since its Legacy award, Time Inc. has carried 12 pages of tobacco advertising, reaching at least 3 million youths. And ironically, on the same evening that Legacy was making the publisher of Sports Illustrated appear to have an anti-tobacco front, the back cover of Sports Illustrated was exposing million of youths to a full-page Camel ad featuring a young, macho-looking, attractive male smoking a cigarette with the caption "Pleasure to Burn."

Time Inc. certainly has the right to publish these ads and it is not my expectation that this publisher would unilaterally forsake tobacco ad revenues. Its goal is not supposed to be improving the public's health. Not so with the American Legacy Foundation. It is presumably a public health organization whose goal is to reduce youth smoking. Its award to Time Inc. undermines its overall mission and has the appearance of putting its own financial status ahead of the objectives of the tobacco control movement.

The American Legacy Foundation award was obviously a sham. Unfortunately, the damage that Legacy did to the credibility and integrity of the tobacco control movement by giving this award is quite real.

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