Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Cigarette Ads Not Good Sports Antismoking Groups Want to Clean Up Sports, Ousting Tobacco Billboards and Sponsorships. SMOKE-FREE STADIUMS

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Cigarette Ads Not Good Sports Antismoking Groups Want to Clean Up Sports, Ousting Tobacco Billboards and Sponsorships. SMOKE-FREE STADIUMS

Article excerpt

THE Marlboro man in Boston's Fenway Park had better rustle up some ammunition: The antismoking groups are on the attack and aiming to run him out of Massachusetts.

The baseball stadium's cigarette billboard is just one target on their hit list. Antismokers are waging war against all such smoking signs through state legislation banning tobacco billboards at sports events.

"It's an absolute contrast for sporting events to be sponsoring tobacco," when athletic ability is diminished by smoking, says Pat Anderson of the American Lung Association in Boston.

The Bay State's antismoking groups are particularly troubled by the Marlboro billboard during the annual Red Sox game that supports the Jimmy Fund, a cancer research charity. The two billboards hang side by side, Ms. Anderson says.

The legislation, sent to be studied by a state legislative committee, may not see much action this year, says Ed Sweda, state lobbyist for Group Against Smoking Pollution (GASP). Strong pressure from the tobacco industry and a backlog of legislation have helped to stall the bill, Mr. Sweda says.

But antismoking groups say the measure is part of a growing effort nationwide to restrict tobacco promotion at sports events. Local efforts, however, have been more successful than legislation introduced at the state level.

Antismoking groups in Minneapolis, for example, persuaded the state Metropolitan Sports Commission not to renew a billboard contract with R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. In 1992 the Winston cigarette sign at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome stadium will be removed. In addition, when construction of the city's new Timberwolves Stadium is completed this fall, all tobacco advertisements and smoking will be prohibited.

Not all attempts to crack down on tobacco companies been so successful. Three years ago a bill banning sports events that are sponsored by tobacco companies was introduced in the Maine Legislature. (The state already has a ban on all types of billboard advertising. …

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