Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Weekly Update on Leader in Tobacco Control Movement: Condé Nast Publications

This post marks the third edition of a new weekly feature of The Rest of the Story. Each week, we will comment on the work of a leading anti-smoking organization. This week's leader: Condé Nast Publications.

According to the American Legacy Foundation, Condé Nast Publications - a corporate partner of Legacy - is a "leader" in the tobacco control movement. So let's look at the contributions that Condé Nast Publications (publisher of Vogue, Glamour, and GQ) is making to tobacco control this week.

The Rest of the Story

This month's issue of Glamour features a full-page ad for Camel cigarettes, with the "Pleasure to Burn" theme. However, Condé Nast takes action to counteract the effects of this promotion of cigarettes to women: in the same issue, a whole 1/4 page column warns women to ignore the beautiful full-page Camel ad and instead, to "Quit smoking! (It's easier than you think)."

The most recent issue of Vogue features a beautiful 2-page spread for Kool cigarettes, showing a trumpet player holding a cigarette, with a green jazzy backdrop and the slogan "Be Authentic. Be True."

And this month's issue of GQ features a full-page Kool ad, with the theme: "Be Original. Be True."

Once again, I think the American Legacy Foundation should be ashamed of itself for having the gall to contribute to the promotion of cigarettes to women by partnering with a corporation that is sending messages like these to millions of women reading its premiere fashion magazines, while at the same time pretending to be a true champion for decreasing the impact of tobacco on women's health in this country through its sponsorship of the Circle of Friends campaign.

Judging by the actions of its corporate partner, the American Legacy Foundation appears to be passing along the legacy of smoking Kool and Camel cigarettes to America's women (although admittedly it also contributes on the other end by sponsoring programs to help women quit smoking - I guess it at least helps ensure that there will be a need for Legacy's programs).

Let me reiterate that this post is not written to criticize Condé Nast for publishing these ads. Cigarettes are a legal product, it is legal for a magazine to accept tobacco ads, Condé Nast is not a public health organization, and I would not expect Condé Nast to unilaterally make a decision not to accept cigarette ads and decrease its advertising revenue.

But it does show the hypocrisy in the American Legacy Foundation's decision to partner with Condé Nast, publicly crediting this Corporation with being a leader in the anti-tobacco movement, all the while condemning the high youth exposure to cigarette advertising in magazines out of the other side of its mouth and supporting programs to get women who might be enticed by these cigarette ads to later quit.

This isn't leadership. This is hypocrisy at its worst.

Congratulations to Condé Nast Publications and the American Legacy Foundation for their excellent contributions to tobacco control this week through contributing to the exposure of millions of Americans to cigarette advertising in the most premiere fashion magazines in the nation.

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