Tobacco Ads Smoked : Newspapers Kicking the Habit across the Country

By Noack, David | Editor & Publisher, June 5, 1999 | Go to article overview

Tobacco Ads Smoked : Newspapers Kicking the Habit across the Country


Noack, David, Editor & Publisher


The Honolulu Star-Bulletin has become the latest newspaper to ban tobacco advertising.

The decision came about a month after The New York Times announced that it would no longer accept cigarette advertising, effective May 1. The Times' decision affects only the flagship newspaper and not its other newspaper properties, such as The Boston Globe or regional newspapers.

These are just two of the latest newspapers to banish tobacco advertising. Others include The Christian Science Monitor, based in Boston; The Deseret News of Salt Lake City; The Times Leader of Wilkes-Barre, Pa.; and three in Washington, the Seattle Times, Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, and Yakima Herald-Republic.

In March, the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram also joined the tobacco ad ban. They are allowing a six-month phaseout to honor existing contracts. In addition, they also asked Parade Publications Inc. to provide a tobacco ad-free magazine, which will begin on Jan. 1, 2000.

Liz Manigan, Parade vice president and promotions director, says that since 1994 the edition for the Seattle Times has also been tobacco ad- free.

She says The Times Leader in Pennsylvania did contact Parade about tobacco ads, but did not press the issue, and tobacco ads still appear in its edition of the Sunday magazine.

Honolulu Star-Bulletin publisher John Flanagan says the decision to ban tobacco ads was not made in response to the Times' action, but was an issue that had recently been debated.

What prompted this debate was a reaction by readers, many of whom support the right to bear arms, challenging the newspaper's advocacy of gun restrictions. They argued that, when used properly, guns are safe, but that tobacco products, when used as intended, cause illness.

It was right after this challenge that the newspaper ran two full-page color cigarette ads that appeared in the paper over the last couple of weeks. The flap resulted in a re-examination of the advertising acceptance policy.

"There had been little tobacco advertising in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin during the six years since our newspaper's ownership changed, and I became publisher. Until two or three weeks ago, the issue of accepting it had not come up," says Flanagan.

He says the financial impact will be negligible since the paper gets few tobacco advertisements. …

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