Memo Pad: Smoke 'Em If You've Got 'Em... Second Coming...

Members of Congress asked certain women's magazines to stop accepting "misleading advertising for deadly cigarettes."

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SMOKE 'EM IF YOU'VE GOT 'EM: A few months ago, 41 members of Congress sent out a plea, in letter form, asking certain women's magazines to stop accepting "misleading advertising for deadly cigarettes" and, more specifically, to stop running the Camel No. 9 ad from R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. The letter claimed the hot pink ad was developed to encourage young women to smoke. Apparently, among Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, In Style, Vogue, W, Lucky and Marie Claire, the only response Congress garnered was a phone call from Glamour's editor in chief, Cindi Leive, followed by a letter.

So a second batch of letters was recently sent out, this time clearly asking for a response by Wednesday. A spokeswoman for Congresswoman Lois Capps (D., Calif.), one of the leaders on the issue, was perplexed at the lack of contact the office has received to date, although a Vogue spokeswoman pointed out Congress did not clearly request a response in its first letter. Regarding that statement, Capps' spokeswoman said: "When people get letters from Congress, they generally respond."

And, while this topic is debatable, what's certain this time around is that if magazines don't play ball with Congress, there are several options on the table, such as a hearing or drafting legislation. One media observer pointed out that tobacco ads represent a small percentage of most magazines' overall advertising, and said titles such as Vogue aren't breaking any laws by publishing Camel No. 9 ads. "Bring on the legislation," added the observer. It appears Congress' second letter-writing campaign is gaining more steam, as Kim France, editor in chief at Lucky, said she is planning to respond to the second letter, while the Vogue spokeswoman said it has sent a letter, but declined to disclose its contents. A spokeswoman for W said the magazine is working on a letter and will reply this week. A Hearst spokeswoman didn't comment on whether its magazines are responding to Congress, but said: "At the moment, our policy regarding cigarette advertising is that the decision on whether to accept or reject it is at the discretion of our individual publishers." At In Style, a spokeswoman said management is aware of the letter from Congress and added the July, August and September issues combined carry only two pages of tobacco advertising. Elle did not respond by press time. — Amy Wicks
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