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Calif. Unveils New Anti-Tobacco Ads

June 2, 1998

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) _ The Marlboro Man needs Viagra.

That’s the implied message from a not-so-subtle California ad campaign illustrating a link between smoking and impotence.

The Department of Health Services on Monday unveiled 25 new radio, television and print ads that will begin appearing next week as part of a three-year, $67.5 million anti-smoking state campaign.

The ads are aimed at getting through to a tough audience with the message that smoking just isn’t sexy. Kim Belshe, the agency director, said anxiety over sex, not health, may get more men to stop smoking.

``The Marlboro Man may not be everything he’s cracked up to be,″ Belshe said.

One ad features a man whose attempt to flirt with a woman at a gala goes awry when the cigarette in his mouth suddenly goes limp.

``Medical researchers believe cigarettes are a leading cause of impotence,″ an announcer says. ``Cigarettes. Still think they’re sexy?″

In a 1994 study of Massachusetts men, researchers found that smokers are twice as likely to be impotent as nonsmokers, said Dr. Christopher P. Evans of the University of California, Davis School of Medicine.

In another ad, a 60-year-old smoker with terminal lung cancer reads from his hospital bed a quote from a tobacco executive: ``It is unclear in my mind whether anybody dies from smoking.″

The state’s campaign is paid for by money raised under Proposition 99, a 1988 ballot measure which raised tobacco taxes to fund a variety of anti-smoking, health and environmental programs.

California has the second-lowest prevalence of adult smoking _ 18.2 percent _ in the country, behind Utah, state officials said. Nearly 11 percent of California teen-agers smoke.

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