Tobacco ads focus of teens' march against smoking
It wasn't a fast break for Boston Celtics captain Antoine Walker yesterday, but a walk - in which he led 300 teens in a rally urging young people to avoid tobacco products.
The Stomp Out Smoking March went from Copley Square to Madison Park Community Center in Roxbury and featured teens carrying signs that said ''Don't Let the Tobacco Companies Play You'' and ''Smoking Isn't Kool.''
Members of the Boston Area Youth Tobacco Group joined teenagers from across the state to rally against smoking. Walker told them, ''I've never smoked anything in my life.''
Teens presented findings of their survey, which found that of eight magazines geared toward youth, all increased the number of full-page cigarette ads after a November 1998 settlement between 46 states and the tobacco companies. In that agreement, tobacco companies agreed to end billboard ads and curtail certain marketing tactics, such as Joe Camel, seen as targeting the young.
The teens found that ''Entertainment Weekly'' had the highest number of tobacco ads, including a 10-page Winston advertisement in the issue that featured the movie ''Scream 3.'' Next was ''ESPN The Magazine,'' with an average of 3.4 tobacco ads per issue.
Natasha DeLeon, a 17-year-old student at New Mission High School in Boston and a peer leader, said teenagers are very influenced by advertising.
''There's an ad of Joe Camel partying, surrounded by beautiful women with big breasts and I know kids who look at that ad and say, `Can I get those kind of women if I smoke Camels?''' she said.
In a survey of 12 stores in Dorchester, Roxbury, and the South End, more than 50 percent displayed outdoor tobacco ads, teens found. And teens said buying cigarettes over the Internet was easy if they had access to a credit card.
A 12-year study released by the state Department of Public Health found smoking has increased among students nationwide since 1991.
On Friday, a Justice Department lawyer accused the tobacco companies of peddling cigarettes to children despite the industry's pledge to curb such advertising.
Frank Marine made the argument in US District Court in Washington on a motion by the major tobacco companies to toss out the government's 1998 multibillion-dollar lawsuit.
Walker said he was happy to join the students' antismoking effort. ''It's all about staying healthy,'' said the 23-year-old Celtics forward. ''We're trying to reach youth early because often when kids are growing up, they get frustrated and start looking for stress relievers. We don't want them to turn to smoking.''