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Douglas Wood wrote [in Forum, July 21] that the marketing and advertising restrictions in the agreement between state attorneys general and the tobacco industry "trample on the First Amendment."

But for years, tobacco companies have used the First Amendment as a smoke screen to avoid responsibility for the effects of their products. We're not talking about popcorn or candy. We're talking about marketing a product that kills when used as intended.

The problem, Mr. Wood says, is that no credible study links advertising and child smoking. The tobacco industry uses the same excuse to deny the link between smoking and cancer, and between nicotine and addiction. Now they admit they were lying. Credible evidence abounds.

A study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (1995) found that teens are twice as likely to be influenced to smoke by cigarette marketing as they are by peer pressure. And is it a coincidence that 86% of kids who smoke prefer Marlboro, Camel and Newport, the three most heavily advertised brands? Then there is the Journal of the American Medical Association study (1991) that showed by the time kids reach the age of 6 they recognize Joe Camel as well as they do Mickey Mouse.

Ad executives think a link exists. In a poll, 71% said they think cigarette advertising increases youth smoking and nearly 80% approved of advertising restrictions to reduce its effect on kids and teenagers.

Unfortunately, it makes good business sense for tobacco companies to target kids. Ninety percent of adult smokers started on or before their 18th birthday.

Tobacco use kills over 420,000 Americans annually. We need to see some corporate responsibility on the part of the tobacco industry and its advertising agencies.

William D. Novelli

President, National Center for

Tobacco-Free Kids


Videos and promos

Regarding "One Blockbuster of a merger could fix McDonald's woes" (AA, July 14):

You've written an interesting headline. Perhaps some thought might be given to McDonald's fixing Blockbuster's woes.

McDonald's is being accused of forgetting its roots. Blockbuster should take note and do exactly that. Lurching from one promotion to another could be a brilliant strategy in the video business. In a business where there's not much pizzazz, it is what it is. It's up to the marketer to create a unique niche.

When my two children want fast food they ask if we can go to McDonald's. When they want to rent a video, they ask if we can go to the video store. Which one doesn't matter. Imagine what Blockbuster could do with free balloons, popcorn and some cheap bubble gum to capture some share of mind in my 5-year-old.

He forgets fast and gets tired quickly though, so it's important to be as consistent as McDonald's. He needs a new reason to go every month-not just another hamburger or a movie to rent.

Instead of the big "merge," perhaps Blockbuster could try acting like McDonald's first. The last time I checked, McDonald's is still healthy and cemented in the mind of every child and adult I know.

Katherine M. Doyle

Purchasing Magazine


Ads need a USP

In response to Rance Crain's column regarding the USP ("Tragos reignites anew the debate over Unique Selling Proposition," AA, July 7), words from a USP consumer:

Quick! Entice me! Amuse me! Make me smile-and you'll get my attention. And if I really feel that good, I'll be sure to tell others about what I saw.

Now, please tell me what it is again you're selling?

Ethel T. Olcsvay

New product development

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.

East Brunswick, N.J.

Doo the right thing

Bob Garfield said the TV ad from the Borough of Islington is good advertising ("While doggies doo, people shouldn't," AA, June 30). Then he said it should not have been done because it's disgusting and might offend someone.

So what if it's disgusting? So are people who don't pick up after their dogs.

He said there is more to advertising than communication, effectiveness and memorability. Excuse me. What more?

Since there is nothing to buy here, I would say that the ad agency did a pretty darn good job. Beats the heck out of the heroin-chic fashion ads. The real proof will be how clean the streets of Islington become after the ad has run for a while.

Sandy Jones

Madison, Wis

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