Tuesday, May 30, 2006

American Legacy Foundation Anti-Smoking Summer Tour to Begin

The American Legacy Foundation announced yesterday that its "On the Road Again" summer anti-smoking tour will begin June 5th.

According to the press release: "The tour allows teens the opportunity to engage in peer-to-peer interaction with truth® crew members, spreading the truth about the addictiveness of tobacco products, the adverse health effects of tobacco use, and the social consequences of smoking; and, ultimately, counteracting the marketing tactics used by the tobacco industry."

There are apparently three tours: "Throughout the summer, truth® will travel with three of the season'’s hottest teen-oriented tours: the 2006 AND1 Mix Tape Tour® (25 stops), the Vans Warped Tour® (45 stops) and - the Cosmo GIRL! Beach House Tour (4 stops). Signature orange truth® “trucks” will criss-cross the country, making stops in 50 cities in 28 states. The state-of the art trucks are fully equipped with DJ decks, video monitors, and more. Scratch lessons will also be available through the Scratch DJ Academy, a group of DJs who school newcomers on the fundamentals of DJ'’ing, scratching and mixing music."

The Rest of the Story

This summer "On the Road Again" tour would be better termed "The Hypocrisy Road Tour."

To have a major component of the tour sponsored in the name of a magazine - Cosmo - that is exposing millions of girls to tobacco advertising and encouraging them to smoke, is a disgrace for a campaign that claims to be "counteracting the marketing tactics used by the tobacco industry."

In fact, what the tour is doing is aiding, supporting, enabling, and endorsing the marketing tactics used by the tobacco industry, since advertising in magazines with high youth exposure - such as Cosmopolitan - is an important tobacco industry marketing tactic.

By giving Cosmo magazine a prominent name in the tour and associating the magazine with health and with doing a major public service to promote health, Legacy is aiding and abetting Cosmopolitan in its delivery of glamorizing pro-smoking messages to millions of girls and young women, and thus aiding and abetting the tobacco industry in its recruitment of new young female smokers.

This is hypocrisy at its worst.

If Legacy doesn't feel that marketing of tobacco to girls and young women is a problem because it doesn't affect smoking initiation among these young people, then that's fine. But don't issue a press release telling the public about how bad tobacco marketing tactics are and how important a service Legacy is doing by devoting a summer tour to "counteract" these marketing tactics.

And if Legacy does feel that marketing of tobacco to girls and young women is a problem because it does affect smoking initiation among these young people, then that's also fine. But don't pretend to be fighting and counteracting tobacco marketing tactics when you're actually supporting them.

I can understand and respect the opinions of those who believe or do not believe that cigarette advertising in magazines affects smoking initiation among youths (my own opinion has been made clear in my own research and my trial testimony, but it's not really relevant to this post). The rest of the story here is the hypocrisy of one of the nation's leading anti-smoking organizations.

I understand that Legacy is hard up for money, as they admit in their press release, but is it really necessary to be this devoid of principle to practice tobacco control these days? Isn't there any integrity left in the movement?

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