Legacy: Philip Morris Anti-Smoking Ads Encourage Smoking

WASHINGTON — The American Legacy Foundation, which sponsors a national anti-smoking campaign, said Wednesday that Philip Morris’s anti-smoking ads encourage kids to smoke and should be pulled off the air.

Legacy bases its call on two reports showing that PM’s “Think. Don’t Smoke.” campaign makes teens less likely to believe that cigarette companies deny that smoking causes diseases, and more likely to think tobacco companies should stay in business. The research also shows that 12 to 17-year-olds who saw the PM ads said they were likely to smoke in the future.

“If you are running a public relations offensive, ‘Think. Don’t Smoke.’ is your best bet,” said Cheryl Healton, Legacy’s president and CEO. “But if you are trying to reduce youth smoking, this is not the way to do it.”

The research is based on one study published in the June issue of the American Journal of Public Health and Legacy’s own report comparing its “Truth” campaign with the PM ads.

PM said it intends to study the two reports and will ask to meet with Legacy. “We are confident that our youth smoking prevention ads clearly convey the message that not smoking is the right decision for kids to make,” said Howard Willard, PM”s svp for youth smoking prevention. “Because we are committed to continuously improving our efforts, we are very interested in reviewing the American Legacy Foundation’s study to see if any changes to our approach are warranted.”