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WHERE THERE'S SMOKE: Media coverage of Liggett Group's admission that cigarette smoking is addictive and causes cancer has spread like, well, cancer. A Liggett settlement with 22 states elicited 195 print and electronic media news stories, more than any other marketing subject for the month leading up to this edition of SPINdex.

By contrast, President Clinton's request that the FCC investigate what impact TV liquor ads have on underage drinking generated only 38 stories to rank fourth in this month's SPINdex chart.

Ranking second: 66 marketing and advertising-related stories about ABC's telecast of the Oscars. Third place was taken by advertiser concerns and/or boycotts surround the airing later this month of a controversial episode of "Ellen," in which the title character comes out as a lesbian. McDonald's retro "55" campaign ranked fifth with 24 print stories and 30 seconds of network TV news time.

Joe Mandese is senior VP of Myers Reports. Mark Weiner is VP of Medialink

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