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ACS Launches $5 Million Anti-Tobacco Campaign

The Associated
Press, September 17, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The American Cancer Society has launched a new $5 million ad campaign to "expose the lies'' it says Big Tobacco told to fight a multibillion-dollar settlement in Congress this year.

A spokesman for American tobacco says the industry was only truthful when it told the public the drive to curb youth smoking had been corrupted by calls for new taxes on cigarettes to pay for more government spending. The cancer society on Wednesday announced it will use a series of six TV ads to try to turn the tables on Joe Camel.

The ads will use images of tobacco executives swearing to tell the truth before a House committee and a clip from a tobacco industry TV commercial showing a Christmas tree showering tax dollars on the federal government.

The first cancer society spots use these words:
"Tobacco companies are on the air with over $50 million in advertising. The question is -- can we believe a word they are saying? Have they told the truth about cancer? The truth about nicotine being addictive? The truth about marketing to kids?"

"The fact is, no matter how much money they spend -- a lie is just that. Tell Big Tobacco that we don't buy their lies -- or their ad campaigns."

Tobacco industry spokesman Steve Duchesne rejected the accusations.
"They are singing a very tired old tune," he said. "They seem to be engaged in nothing more than finger pointing and name calling. I would think they would have something better to do with their $5 million."

Far from being a lie, Duchesne asserted, "the industry's advertising campaign was factual, straight forward and honest. The truth that was spoken in this debate this year was spoken through those ads."

The advertising campaign launched by the tobacco companies last spring was widely credited for thwarting major anti-tobacco legislation. The ads sought to picture the tobacco bills as merely a new tax on "the little guy."

Cancer society executives said they hope their ads will refocus the public spotlight on protecting children from the addictive and often cancer-causing properties of tobacco. "We believe that it is very important that the American people not believe this latest lie from the tobacco industry," said John Seffrin, the cancer society's chief executive officer.

Seffrin said that the six TV ads, two of which are ready to air, will appear in markets across the country targeted by the tobacco industry for its own $50 million campaign.

The cancer society's chief executive called the tobacco industry efforts a "bait and switch'' deception aimed at diverting attention from the perils of youth smoking to smokescreen proposals about raising cigarette taxes. But Duchesne asserted that the debate was transformed not by the tobacco industry "but by politicians in Washington who changed the focus away from youth smoking to taxes, money and bigger government."