HIGHTOWER: Same Names Tobacco Campaign

Here is some stunning news! R.J. Reynolds has just declared: "Smoking kills. Don't buy cigarettes." Also, Philip Morris now says nicotine is bad for you and you ought not to smoke, chew or dip. And -- grab your hat for this one -- the Marlboro Man himself says we should "Just say no" to tobacco.Has the tobacco industry suddenly found religion?No. It's not the R.J. Reynolds who has suddenly come out against smoking, but another fellow named R.J. Reynolds, living in Spokane, Washington. He's an 80-year-old grandfather who quit smoking years ago and wants others to get the message that it's a deadly addiction. So he has joined a group called the Tobacco Free Washington Coalition, which is running a billboard campaign in that state featuring Mr. Reynolds's name, his face and his message.The Coalition has enlisted several other famous tobacco names for what they call their "Same Names" anti-smoking campaign, putting them on billboards, too. Their Philip Morris, for example is an Arizona retiree, and their "Marlboro Man" is indeed a man -- from Marlboro, Vermont. They even found a Mr. Joe Camel in Texas, but they can't get him to return their calls. Maybe he's a snuff-dipper.No matter, the Coalition is doing a great job of spreading the word against tobacco by using a sense of humor.Not everyone is smiling though. Ackerly Communications Inc., which controls most of the area's prime billboard space has refused to sell space to the coalition, grumping that the group is bashing "legitimate" corporations that are clients of theirs.Well, I've assembled the Boo Crew here at the Chat & Chew Cafe so we can send a special message of our own to Ackerly Communications: [Boos, hisses, jeers].To learn more about the Coalition's fun-loving-yet-hard-hitting campaign, call them at 206/298-4479.

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