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USA: TIME’s lingering double standard
  1. David Simpson
  1. d.simpson{at}

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    The cover of TIME magazine on 17 October 2005 invited readers to learn about “living better longer”. There was no tobacco advertisement on the back cover that week, but the following week it was business as usual with a Camel ad depicting a young female model. US health advocates say this illustrates a recent trend: when a publication carries a major health article heralded on the cover, the rest of the magazine tends not to contain tobacco advertising, but it resumes in the next issue. In the past, it was not unusual to find a striking announcement of a health article on the front cover, and a full page cigarette advertisement on the back of the same issue (see the TIME covers shown in Tobacco Control 2003;12:338). Some think the latest trend marks a minor step forward, while others reckon it is merely a refinement of double standards. The real motivation is probably commercial: tobacco companies know that, as in politics, a week is a long time for the truth about smoking to linger, allowing the glamorous fable to be resumed untainted.

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    TIME still carries advertising for tobacco products, although now not usually in the same issues as those featuring articles focusing on health.

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