The Marlboro Man Takes A Fall

Nationwide, more than 3,000 highway advertising billboards for cigarettes are headed for the ash heap of history.

CBS News Correspondent Sandra Hughes reports that for more than a decade, the biggest man in Hollywood was not a movie star, but a cowboy. Now, as part of the $206 billion tobacco settlement, the Marlboro man no longer towers over the Sunset Strip.

This week in Hartford, another tobacco billboard bit the dust, and by the end of the week, every cigarette billboard in the country will be history.

"The elimination of tobacco billboards is a very important step because it will eliminate the presence of the Marlboro cowboy and other images every place that kids turn," said Matthew Myers of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

Since tobacco companies voluntarily agreed to stop TV and radio commercials in the 1970's, outdoor advertising has been one of the most visible ways to attract new smokers.

While they're also banned from buses, airports, and cabs, there are now some 66 smoking Web sites and companies can still use magazines, sponsor some events, and advertise in stores.

"We will still be able to responsibly market our product effectively to adults who choose to smoke," said Philip Morris Vice President Ellen Merlo.

What may trouble big tobacco is the big anti-smoking campaign replacing its billboards. On the Sunset Strip, a 60-foot replacement billboard is going up.

It borrows the image of the old Marlboro man but with a new message about impotence. The tobacco company will pay for the new billboard until its lease runs out at the end of the year.

"Negative advertising is always more powerful in the beginning because we're not used to it," said Hal Kassarjian of UCLA.

But even with the changes in cigarette advertising, nationwide, teen smoking is at a 19-year high.

©1999 CBS Worldwide Corp. All rights reserved
  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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