On February 12th, Philip Morris USA released publicly their concerns that the American Legacy
Foundation's anti-smoking ad campaign and Web site
violate "the spirit" of the agreement that funds them. Philip Morris USA is
hinting its billion-dollar payments toward the effort may
be in jeopardy unless major changes are made.
Some of the American Legacy
Foundation's "ambush" ads have been rejected by CBS
and Fox Networks while the target, Philip Morris, is
considering legal action.
The aggressive new anti-smoking campaign is being scaled back just a week
after it was launched. The ads were financed by cigarette makers as part of
a massive 1998 legal settlement with 46 states. But now tobacco companies
are complaining these first ads go too far.
The American Legacy Foundation withdraws ads to
defuse a potentially distracting debate over whether the
ads amounted to an improper personal attack on tobacco
companies or were an arresting way to educate teens
about smoking's risks. One of the ads shows young people stacking "body
bags" on the sidewalk outside a tobacco company building;
the other shows teens equipped with a lie detector
trying to get into a tobacco company's offices to quiz sales
executives about whether smoking was addictive.
The American Legacy Foundation, led by Christine Gregoire, caved in to
threats from Philip Morris and a couple of pro-tobacco attorneys general.
ALF pulled the strong ads that they had planned to run. The threats that
the industry made are standard operating procedure.
How to Make Lots and Lots of Money Go Up in Smoke
"Tobacco kills" has been proved again and again to be
unmotivating for the adolescent audience that a) defies
authority, and b) imagines itself invulnerable. What does
impress teen-agers is a credible appeal to
their vanity -- i.e., tobacco makes you smell, tobacco makes
your teeth yellow, smoke repulses the opposite sex and cancer
ALF Should Force Court Ruling on "The Truth"
The Master Settlement Agreement states that American Legacy Foundation's
education fund "shall not be used for any personal attack
on, or vilification of, any person, company, or governmental
agency, whether individually or collectively." In contrast to claims
in the included Washington Post
article, it is important to note that "The Truth" ads by the
ALF do not violate the MSA until and unless
a tobacco company challenges ALF in court, and the
court rules against ALF.