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Why is Philip Morris Still Advertising in Sports Illustrated and Rolling Stone?

Cigarette Ads Continue a Month after Tobacco Giant Announced Suspension
July 05, 2000

Washington, DC — Philip Morris continues to run advertising for its cigarette brands in the latest issues of Sports Illustrated and Rolling Stone magazines one month after announcing that it was suspending advertising in these publications.

Philip Morris announced on June 5 that it had suspended cigarette advertising in Sports Illustrated and Rolling Stone in May and that it would be suspending cigarette advertising in 40 to 50 other publications with high youth readership in the coming months. However, the July 3, 2000, issue of Sports Illustrated includes advertising for two Philip Morris cigarette brands, Marlboro and Basic, and the July 6-20, 2000, issue of Rolling Stone also includes advertising for two Philip Morris brands, Marlboro and Parliament.

In addition, these publications include cigarette advertising for brands manufactured by the other major tobacco companies, RJ Reynolds, Brown & Williamson, and Lorillard, and the outer back cover of Sports Illustrated features an ad for RJR's Winston brand. In addition to the suspension of ads from certain magazines, Philip Morris announced it would cease advertising on back outer covers, citing this decision as an effort to reduce youth exposure to cigarette ads.

Philip Morris made its June 5 announcement in the face of an investigation by the state attorneys general into whether cigarette advertising in magazines with high youth readership constitutes a violation of the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement between the states and the tobacco companies, which prohibited the tobacco companies from taking 'any action, directly or indirectly, to target youth.' None of the other tobacco companies have agreed to the advertising restrictions announced by Philip Morris, and the investigation by the attorneys general is continuing.

'Philip Morris' continued advertising in Sports Illustrated and Rolling Stone shows once again that Philip Morris can't be trusted to do what it says it will do,' said Matthew L. Myers, President of the CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS. 'If Philip Morris was truly serious about reducing youth exposure to cigarette advertising, it could have immediately pulled its advertising not only in Sports Illustrated and Rolling Stone, as it pledged to do, but in other magazines with high youth readership as well. If it had to meet any commitment to these publications, Philip Morris could have replaced its cigarette ads with ads for its non-tobacco products or from its series of 'Change and Tobacco' ads, as it has done on at least one occasion in Rolling Stone. Instead, Philip Morris is continuing to run its cigarette ads for as long as possible while still claiming to be within the letter of its June 5 announcement. Philip Morris' intent appears to be to lock in as much of the youth market as it can before it has to cease advertising in these magazines. A cynic might conclude that Philip Morris made its announcement just in time for its executives' testimony in the Florida Engle trial, while postponing any action until the trial is over.

'In addition, the failure of the other tobacco companies to take any meaningful steps to reduce their advertising in these magazines shows that Philip Morris' announcement falls far short of solving the problem. The latest issues of Sports Illustrated, Rolling Stone and other magazines are still loaded with tobacco ads. Kids don't even have to open Sports Illustrated to see the Winston ad on the back cover. We again call on the state attorneys general to take aggressive enforcement action against the tobacco companies to bring a halt to this massive advertising targeting our children. This is a critical test of whether the Master Settlement Agreement's prohibition on targeting youth has any meaning.'

According to Simmons Market Research, Sports Illustrated has 7,254,000 youth readers age 12-17, or 22.5 percent of the magazine's overall readership. Rolling Stone has 3,318,000 readers age 12-17, or 28.2 percent of overall readership.

Philip Morris, in its June 5 announcement, said it would suspend cigarette advertising in any publication with youth readership (under 18) totaling at least 15 percent of overall readership or two million youth readers