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Tobacco Co. Accused Over Ads

January 12, 2000

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. is under fire from anti-tobacco advocates who say the company has violated an agreement to stop advertising to children.

The criticism comes as the company launches a series of forums to promote ``open dialogue″ about tobacco.

``The fact is, Brown & Williamson has not changed and despite its vehement claims to the contrary, it does market to kids,″ Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids said Tuesday. ``These ads seek to make cigarette smoking glamorous and sexy in a way that is clearly intended to appeal to teen-agers.″

Myers admitted other tobacco companies had similar problems but said it was important to highlight problems with Brown & Williamson as it’s chief executive officer, Nick Brookes, prepared to speak before the National Press Club Tuesday.

Brookes, in his remarks, said the forums were not a ``gimmick.″

``They are genuinely intended for us to have constructive engagement with our critics,″ he said. ``The industry has been out of step with the American public for far too long.″

Brookes said the first forum would be this spring and would deal with producing a safer cigarette. A second forum will target youth smoking and the third will discuss the growing risk of black market cigarettes.

Anti-tobacco advocates, who also detailed their complaints in an ad in The Washington Post, said that the company has placed ads in magazines like Sports Illustrated, Rolling Stone, Spin, Vibe and Sport _ all of which have significant numbers of readers ages 12 to 17.

Data from Simmons Market Research Bureau show youth readership levels of 22.5 percent for Sports Illustrated, 28 percent for Rolling Stone, 32 percent for Spin, 42 percent for Vibe and 33 percent for Sport, according to the advocates.

Brookes said the company has a policy not to advertise with a magazine with more than 15 percent youth readership. All of the magazines have certified to the company they fall within the guidelines he said, noting that ads were being halted in Sport magazine which recently notified the company that its youth numbers had increased.

``We do treat this as a very serious policy,″ he said.

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