Friday, September 09, 2016

Conde Nast Promotes Cancer Research ... and Cancer: A Guest Commentary and Open Letter by Alan Blum, MD

"Glamour. This is one of the many publications whose chief function is to publish ads for cosmetics, clothes, and other items for young women.  The tobacco industry, having almost reached the saturation point of male smoking, is out to get a majority of women. Glamour hired Dr. Henry C. Link to write an article (Jan '46) saying that smoking cigarets is one of the most important of all bad habits."
--George Seldes, In Fact, July 28, 1947

Nearly 70 years later, Glamour is still ignoring the dangers of smoking and running cigarette ads.  And now Glamour is published by Conde Nast, which also publishes influential magazines like The New Yorker, Wired, and Vanity Fair.

Tonight Stand Up To Cancer holds its fifth fundraising telethon for cancer research.  Its slogan is "This is where the end of cancer begins."  But several of SU2C's Publishing Partners still accept advertising for the leading cause of cancer, cigarettes.  Because The New Yorker prides itself on exposing the hypocrisy of  public figures and trusted institutions, it is only fair to ask its editor how the magazine can ignore the hypocrisy of its publisher, whose slogan could well be "This is where cancer begins."

An open letter to David Remnick: 

Sent: Sunday, September 04, 2016 3:39 PM
Subject: In the spirit of Thomas Whiteside...
David Remnick
Editor, The New Yorker

Dear Mr. Remnick,

Since as a longstanding subscriber to The New Yorker I receive a weekly email from you, I hope you will be interested in a letter from a loyal reader with a suggestion for an editor's note.

The late Thomas Whiteside, most well known for his expose in The New Yorker of the use of the herbicide Agent Orange in the Viet Nam War, also wrote two scathing articles for the magazine in 1963 and 1970 (plus a third in The New Republic) about the tobacco industry and cigarette advertising that were published as a book, Selling Death.

By this time The New Yorker had stopped accepting cigarette advertising.  But nearly half a century later The New Yorker's publisher Conde Nast is still running cigarette ads in several of its magazines, notably Vanity Fair, Wired, and Glamour. That's certainly its prerogative, as it is of the tobacco companies under the First Amendment to advertise cigarettes, a legal, albeit lethal, product.

However, Conde Nast is also a Publishing Partner of Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C), the cancer cure research fund-raising organization whose fifth national telethon is September 9. The publication by Conde Nast of advertisements for SU2C, including in The New Yorker, that call for the public to support research to find a cure for cancer, strikes me as the epitome of hypocrisy.  I believe that Thomas Whiteside would have called out Conde Nast.  I think you should do so now.

Even while it no longer published cigarette ads per se, throughout the 1980s, 1990s, and well into the 2000s The New Yorker published countless 2-page image-burnishing advertisements byPhilip Morris USA (subsumed, since 2003, under its newly named parent, Altria) touting its support for the arts and various charitable causes from food banks and minority-hiring programs to efforts to end illiteracy and domestic violence.  More recently, Altria was a co-sponsor of The New Yorker's Aspen Ideas Festival, and the Altria logo was featured in advertisements in the magazine.  All of these ads were aimed at opinion leaders among The New Yorker's readership. Altria/Philip Morris is the manufacturer of the world's top-selling brand of cigarettes, Marlboro.

I have heard your interview with Terry Gross on "Fresh Air," in which you praise Sy Newhouse for the free hand he has given you at the helm of The New Yorker.  I also admire Mr. Newhouse for his commitment to the print medium and for his contributions to education (my son is a graduate of the Newhouse School at Syracuse).

But it should be a no-brainer to point out the egregious contradiction of a publisher promoting a foundation that seeks to find cures for cancer while still promoting the leading preventable cause of cancer, cigarettes, which are responsible for upwards of a third of all cancer deaths.

As a regular op-ed contributor to The Birmingham News, I first wrote about your publisher's (and others')  hypocrisy in a column in 2014, which was picked up by The Cancer Letter (attachment) and other outlets including Fair Warning (an investigative journalism group) and the Knight Science Journalism Tracker.  I wrote about it again a few weeks ago:

But such local columns are trees falling in the forest, and here we are nearly half a century after Thomas Whiteside's condemnation of the cigarette makers in The New Yorker. I hope you will raise concerns about Conde Nast's wanting to appear to be an ardent foe of cancer while still accepting a considerable
amount of money to advertise cigarettes--and will also forward my letter to Mr. Newhouse for his consideration.

I look forward to hearing from you.


Alan Blum, MD
Professor and Gerald Leon Wallace, MD, Endowed Chair in Family Medicine
Director, The University of Alabama Center for the Study of Tobacco and Society
University of Alabama School of Medicine
Phone: 205.348.2880

Publishing Partners of Stand Up To Cancer that still publish cigarette advertisements

American Media, Inc. (AMI) owns and operates the leading celebrity and health & fitness media brands in the country. Our magazines have a combined total circulation of 5.9+ million and reach 53+ million men and women each month. Our digital properties reach a total of 41+ million unique visitors and 313+ million page views monthly.

AMI's most well known publication THE NATIONAL ENQUIRER still runs cigarette ads.  The company cultivates an image of health with some magazines as Men's Fitness, Muscle & Fitness, and Muscle & Fitness Hers.

Bonnier Corporation is one of the largest consumer-publishing groups in America and is the leading media company serving passionate, highly engaged audiences through 50 special-interest magazines and related multimedia projects and events. Popular brands include Saveur, Parenting, Popular Science, Field & Stream and TransWorld SKATEboarding. Bonnier Corp. is the U.S. division of the Bonnier Group, a 200-year-old family-owned media group based in Sweden with business operations in 25 countries.

FIELD & STREAM and POPULAR SCIENCE feature cigarette and smokeless tobacco advertisements in every issue.

Condé Nast is a premier media company renowned for producing the highest quality content for the world’s most influential audiences.  Attracting 95 million consumers across its industry-leading print, digital and video brands, the company’s portfolio includes some of the most iconic titles in media: Vogue, Vanity Fair, Glamour, Brides, Self, GQ, The New Yorker, Condé Nast Traveler, Details, Allure, Architectural Digest, Bon Appétit, Epicurious, Wired, W, Lucky, Golf Digest, Golf World, Teen Vogue and Ars Technica.

VOGUE, VANITY FAIR, GQ, CONDE NAST TRAVELER, and WIRED all regularly feature advertisements for cigarettes and smokeless tobacco.

Hearst Magazines is one of the world’s largest publishers of monthly magazines, with 21 U.S. titles and close to 300 international editions. Hearst Magazines also publishes 19 magazines in the United Kingdom through its wholly owned subsidiary, Hearst Magazines UK. Hearst’s properties include, among others, Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, O the Oprah Magazine, Redbook, Town&Country, and the newly launched Food Network Magazine. Hearst is pleased to support the Entertainment Industry Foundation and its efforts to Stand Up to Cancer.

COSMOPOLITAN still accepts advertisements for cigarettes and smokeless tobacco.

Time Inc., a Time Warner company, is a world class branded content company, investing in the future and engaging more than 138 million consumers monthly; whenever, however, and wherever they are. With 22 magazines and 26 web sites in the U.S., it is the country’s largest consumer publisher. Each month, one out of every two American adults reads a Time Inc. magazine, and one out of every five, who are online, visits a company web site (more than 52 million monthly unique visitors). Time Inc.’s popular brands and successful franchises extend to online, mobile and digital reading devices, television, events and branded products.

TIME and SPORTS ILLUSTRATED feature advertisements for cigarettes and smokeless tobacco in almost every issue.

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