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New Anti-Smoking Ads Target Movie Industry

April 23, 1998|Denise Gellene

Two government-funded advertising campaigns are putting the motion picture industry on the defensive. As part of an effort funded by its settlement with Big Tobacco, Florida is running print ads developed with input from teens that attack film images of smoking. "Attention movie industry," said an ad that ran recently in The Times and Hollywood trades. "We're your best customers. So why are you trying to kill us?" The ad, which shows a female smoker with stars in her eyes, continues: "How about a warning label on movies that glamorize smoking? Something like, 'The makers of this film couldn't think of a way to make the characters cool or sexy or rebellious, so instead, they'll just smoke.' " The ads are part of Florida's $200-million program to reduce smoking. Los Angeles County, meanwhile, is continuing a campaign that combats glamorous film portrayal of smoking. Two new text-only ads associate disease and smoking, but don't take on Hollywood directly. The ads are scheduled to run in 41 theaters in the county. The county kicked off the campaign in November with ads in 35 theaters that were criticized as tepid because they merely poked fun at smoking. UC Irvine marketing professor Connie Pechmann, an expert on anti-tobacco advertising, said the new ads seem more effective. In a recent survey of Los Angeles County theatergoers, 80% of 14- to 25-year-olds said it was unnecessary for characters in the film they viewed to smoke. Among people older than 25, 84% believed smoking was unnecessary. A representative of the Motion Picture Assn. of America had no immediate comment on either campaign.

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