AD AGENCY EXECS SUPPORT SELF-REGULATION ON TOBACCO: BUT NEW SURVEY SHOWS 60% DOUBT VOLUNTARY RULES CAN BE ENFORCED

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Nearly four out of five ad agency executives support voluntary guidelines for tobacco advertising, but more than half believe the industry would be unable to enforce such rules.

Those are among the key findings in a random survey of 300 advertising agency executives by the Initiative on Tobacco Marketing to Children, a group formed in November by marketing executives interested in developing guidelines to protect minors from tobacco ads. The study, conducted by Shepardson, Stern & Kaminsky, had a margin of error of plus or minus 5.5 percentage points.

The ad industry has battled government attempts to regulate tobacco advertising. But the industry's self-regulatory body, the National Advertising Review Council, said earlier this month it was considering the development of a voluntary industry code.

Asked if they would support voluntary restrictions, 78% of survey respondents said yes. But only 45% said they thought agencies would comply and 60% said they didn't think the rules would be enforceable.

LIMITS ON STYLE, PLACEMENT

In addition, 79% of respondents favored "limiting the style and placement of advertising for cigarette and tobacco products to minimize the impact on children and teen-agers."

More than half of those surveyed said they believe reaching teen-agers is a goal of tobacco advertising, despite the tobacco industry's statements to the contrary. And 82% believe tobacco ads reach children and teens in significant numbers.

Some 49% said the stance taken by the Freedom to Advertise Coalition-namely, that proposed federal restrictions on tobacco marketing violate advertisers' First Amendment rights-accurately reflect their views as members of the ad industry. About one-fourth of respondents work for agencies that are members of the American Association of Advertising Agencies.

MILENTHAL ENCOURAGED

David Milenthal, chairman of HMS Partners, Columbus, Ohio, and a founder of the Initiative on Tobacco Marketing to Children, said the results support the group's efforts to develop an industry code.

"We wouldn't exist if the rank and file of this industry wasn't in support of this," he said. Mr. Milenthal said the group is considering running ads publicizing the survey results, but no decisions on spending or creative have been made.

In another interesting survey finding, 38% said they favor prohibiting broadcast advertising of hard liquor, while 55% oppose such a move.

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