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Papers Opposing ‘Cool’ Cigarette Ads Major Media Chain Suggests Tough Rules On Tobacco Ads

Knight-Ridder Inc. no longer wants Joe Camel or ads that make smoking look sexy on the pages of The Miami Herald, The Philadelphia Inquirer or any of its 31 other newspapers.

Catchy phrases such as “cool” or “alive with pleasure” also are out under five new “suggested guidelines” on tobacco ads issued by one of the nation’s largest media companies.

“It’s a certainty other companies are facing the same type of issues,” Lee Ann Schlatter, a Knight-Ridder spokeswoman, said Tuesday. “Other people are figuring out what they are going to do. It’s one of those difficult situations. It’s a legal product.”

Tom Lauria, a spokesman for the Tobacco Institute lobbying group in Washington, contended that Knight-Ridder’s new policy opens the media company’s advertising up to pressure from other interest groups, including opponents of alcohol, junk food, and sex and violence in movies.

“Can we expect Knight-Ridder to capitulate to all of them?” Lauria said. “They will find their own self-censorship is contagious.”

Knight-Ridder decided against banning tobacco advertising outright, and said it’s up to individual newspapers within its group to decide whether to follow the guidelines.

It is also encouraging companies that publish the newspapers’ Sunday inserts, such as Parade magazine and packages of ads, to follow the policy.

Under the guidelines, ads should be rejected if they include cartoonlike characters aimed at young people; imply that smoking is linked to good health; use lines such as “alive with pleasure” - the slogan for Newport cigarettes; or suggest that smoking leads to beauty, success or sexual attractiveness.

In addition, ads shouldn’t appear in sections for children or teenagers.

Knight-Ridder drew up its policy from a proposal by the New York-based Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, which represents $50 billion in corporate investments by religious institutions.

Joe Camel, a cartoon camel in R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. ads, has been heavily criticized by anti-smoking groups for allegedly enticing youngsters to smoke.

“We think this is a very important precedent for the whole publishing industry,” said Tim Schmidt, executive director of the Interfaith Center.


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