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State Prosecutors Say Cigarette Makers Breaking Promise of Not Targeting Advertising at Youth

Aired May 17, 2000 - 2:48 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: If you think you're seeing more cigarette ads in your favorite magazines, you may be right.

CNN's Jonathan Aiken reports state prosecutors say cigarette makers are breaking the promise by splashing news ads in magazines, especially magazines that attract teenagers.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JONATHAN AIKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Since the 1998 agreement with the attorneys generals of 46 states put limits on how cigarettes can been marketed. Tobacco companies have turned more and more toward print advertising to pitch their products. Two studies out Wednesday say increasingly those ads are showing up in magazines subscribed to by adults, but who's readership is at least 15 percent young people, between the ages of 12 and 17.

MATTHEW MEYERS, CAMPAIGN FOR A TOBACCO-FREE AMERICA: The tobacco industry knows full well that "Sports Illustrated," for example, is subscribed to by an adult but read by millions of the children.

AIKEN: Massachusetts public health researchers found tobacco advertising in magazines with 15 percent youth readership jumped by 1/3 between 1998, before the tobacco deal, and last year. That jump, roughly $30 million, makes up more than a third of all tobacco advertising.

The researchers say brands favored by younger smokers, like Marlboro, Kool and Camel, increase their advertising budgets in magazines read by youth.

GREG CONNOLLY, MASSACHUSETTS TOBACCO CO.: "Sport," 1/3 youth leadership -- it's up 58 percent. "Spin," 1/3 youth readership -- up 55 percent. "Hot Rod," 1/3 youth readership -- up 51 percent.

AIKEN: Many of the magazines in question, especially "Sports Illustrated" and "Rolling Stone," say their target audience is a reader 21 and older. Marlboro's maker, Philip Morris, says its advertising criteria is based on who subscribes to magazine, not who reads them. The firm says it stands by its commitment to the 1998 tobacco deal, and cited conflicting data in the studies released Wednesday as reason to take another look at its advertising practices. A statement released by Philip Morris says, "We are going into an immediate review process of all of the available date concerning magazine advertising to ensure that we continue to market our products in a responsible to adults who choose to smoke.

But the chief negotiator of the 1998 deal says the tobacco companies know exactly what they're doing.

In a statement to CNN, Washington State attorney general Christine Gregoire said "The spirit and intent with the settlement with the states requires the industry to stop advertising their products to our kids, which is illegal."

AIKEN (on camera): The studies have prompted a coalition of health groups to call on the attorneys generals to take immediate legal action to enforce the provisions of the tobacco agreement as they relate to advertising.

Jonathan Aiken for CNN, Washington

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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