[Letter to the Editor]
February 11, 1999
CONTACT: Scott Goold at 505.293.2504
Dear Christopher Johnson:
Editor and Publisher, Weekly Alibi

In the February 4-10th edition, there was an absence of tobacco advertising. I thought -- for a moment -- that our letters and requests finally paid off. I was sad to see in yesterday's weekly edition that there are again full-page spots for both Winston and Marlboro.

Why is this? Is the Weekly Alibiunable to attract other funding? Or does your publication believe that there is a need to provide readers with such information?

Think about it, research shows that smokers are very unlikely to switch brands. Once they select a cigarette, they stay with it ­ probably for the rest of their shortened lives. The tobacco companies are aware of this marketing fact. So why do they advertise? You know as well as I do. They advertise to attract new customers. Nearly 90% of all smokers begin before they are 18 years of age. Most begin in the years between the ages of 11-14.

Advertising Facts
Eighty-six percent of kids who smoke prefer Marlboro, Camel and Newport. These are the three most heavily advertised brands. Only about one-third of adults choose these brands.
Marlboro, the most heavily advertised brand, constitutes almost 60% of the youth market, but only 25% of the adult market.
Between 1989 and 1993, when advertising for the new Joe Camel campaign jumped from $27 million to $43 million, Camel's share among youth increased by more than 50%. Its adult market share did not change at all during this time.
A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that teens are more likely to be influenced by cigarette advertising than they are by peer pressure.
A study of California teens published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that tobacco promotional activities were responsible for one-third of all smoking experimentation in California between 1993 and 1996.
A 1994 article published in JAMA documented a rapid and unprecedented increase in the smoking initiation rate of adolescent girls subsequent to the launch in the late 1960s of women's cigarette brands like Virginia Slims.

Okay, enough with the studies and facts, I am sure you are a bright guy and that you are already aware of this information. So why does the Weekly Alibiinclude the advertising?

We live in an average world with millions of average people and average efforts. Can't I convince you to take a stand? Wouldn't you like to be one who thinks differentlyand helps us build a better world?

One day our world will put tobacco in a small box. Adults will always have the opportunity to smoke, but we will restrict advertising and availability. We will look back on this time as a dark period in American capitalism. Wouldn't you like to be a leader and pioneer in this movement? It takes courage. It requires action from the heart rather from the head. It is rational to accept cigarette advertising because it is both easy and lucrative. Yet there is no question that it is morally wrong.

The tobacco industry spends approximately $6 billion a year on advertising and marketing. The result is that 3,000 kids and teens pick up the habit each day. The result is that over 500,000 Americans die each year. You and I pay thousands of dollars in higher health care costs and taxes. Our friends and family members pay with tragic diseases and death.

Please, Mr Johnson, make the right choice for America. Think differently -- use your heart!


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