UNNEEDED SMOKING AD REGS

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How much time and money are being wasted on the issue of smoking? Hunger, the homeless, lack of education and gang violence are taking a back seat to cigarettes.

The regulations the government is proposing are a violation of the First Amendment.

As an adult, I do not want the government regulating how information is presented to me. I am an intelligent woman capable of making my own decisions on whether to use a particular product. Information directed to me should not be analyzed on a child's level.

As a member of the advertising profession, I can recognize a good ad campaign when I see one. The regulations regarding sponsorship of events by the cigarette companies are another example of wasted government effort. Young people are more likely to buy the shoes their favorite athlete wears than they are to buy a cigarette because they see the word Winston on a sign. They are much more interested in events like basketball, football and baseball than racing. The fact that cigarette manufacturers choose to sponsor racing events is an intelligent decision. These events have an adult audience.

As a mother, I would appreciate the government leaving me alone to do my job-raising my children with a good moral base that I feel is appropriate.

D.R. Bell

Denver

Nobody hates cigarettes more than I do. And yet, like most of us in the industry, I'm all for First Amendment protection of advertisers to say what they want as long as it isn't misleading or otherwise illegal.

But I'm writing because of a different aspect of this tobacco ad ban controversy. Why is it universally assumed that any ad that uses a cartoon character is aimed a children?

Cartoons were originally intended, and are still written, for adults. In this 100th anniversary year of the comic strip, we are celebrating the first continuing cartoon character, the Yellow Kid, whose political commentary was decidedly not for children. The same applies to today's comics.

It wasn't until television came along and theatrical cartoons were recycled as kidvid fare that this association with kids and cartoons began.

I say that Joe Camel, as a charming cartoon mascot, is as much an adult character as any. Is the Pillsbury Doughboy aimed at children? Charlie the Tuna?

If the government wants to ban cigarette advertising, let it be because they don't want adults to smoke and then we can fight it in court on free speech grounds. But don't base the battle on the premise that cartoons are just for kids. It just ain't so, Joe.

David Burd

East Stroudsburg, Pa.

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