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Anti-smokers hit tobacco promotion aimed at children

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DETROIT -- Philip Morris is using candy, toys and movies in a campaign to get young people to smoke and the government ought to stop it, the operators of a commercial stop-smoking program say.

Grace and Damon Reinbold of East Lansing said Monday they filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission against Philip Morris Inc., Warner Communications Inc. and Time-Life Inc., all headquartered in New York.

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The suit asks for a halt to showing cigarettes on television, in movies, on album covers and on other objects which appeal to children and teenagers.

In Washington, the FTC declined comment on the complaint.

'We discovered that Marlboro cigarettes are seen at least 22 timesin Superman II, often during times of intense action, but always with a well-planned direction and detail,' Reinbold said.

He said this is only one instance of tobacco companies' efforts to encourage young people to smoke and to establish brand-name identification among children, 'so that if they experiment with smoking, they will do it with a familiar brand.'

The Reinbolds, who operate the Damon & Grace anti-smoking program, displayed nearly two dozen examples of tobacco company promotion aimed at children, including packages of candy cigarettes, miniature race cars with cigarette company decals, and still photographs of scenes from 'Superman' and 'Superman II,' in which packages of Marlboro cigarettes are prominently displayed.

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The Reinbolds said they hope the FTC will establish youth marketing guidelines for tobacco companies and other promoters of cigarettes.

Reinbold said he believes his complaint is the first filed with the FTC by a commercial stop-smoking program.

The complaint alleges that:

-Time-Life, through Home Box Office, its cable television subsidiary, promoted smoking in a children's program called 'Braingames' by showing a full-size Marlboro billboard 'just long enough to implant the brand name firmly in the subconscious of children who watched this popular program.'

-Warner Communications, through Warner Brothers Records, produced an Eric Clapton album entitled 'Money & Cigarettes.' Although the song lyrics and titles do not mention cigarettes or smoking, Clapton is shown with cigarettes on the album cover. His concert tour is being supported financially by R.J. Reynolds of Winston-Salem, N.C., maker of Camel cigarettes.

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