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The war on smoking has existed for decades With the advent of more tenacious laws prohibiting smoking in public locations and most recently Minnesotas historic tobacco settlement many actions against Big Tobacco have become more successful Anti-smoking campaigns have become more confrontational directly targeting tobacco companies in an effort to expose its manipulative and illegal marketing tactics On the surface last Novembers 206 billion settlement agreement between the tobacco companies and 46 states looks like a serious blow for Big Tobacco In addition to the money it contains some important concessions a ban on outdoor advertising limits on sports sponsorships and merchandising no more product placement in movies and they have to close the Tobacco Institute and other instruments And Joe Camel - along with all other cartoon characters - is gone for good Yet this did not hurt the tobacco industrys ability to sell cigarettes On Nov 20 the day the attorneys general announced the settlement the stock of the leading tobacco companies soared After all the Big Four tobacco makers will pay only 1 percent of the damages at most directly the rest will be passed on to smokers through higher prices Since many states are already figuring the settlement money into their budgets this puts them in the odd position of depending on the continued health of the tobacco industry for their roads schools and hospitals Punishing the industry in other words doesnt necessarily address the root of the problem - reducing demand for cigarettes And that wont go down until we all face the fact that smoking is once again cool In the 1980s scarcely any teenagers smoked However according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention teen smoking rose 73 percent from 1988 to 1996 As long as movie stars like John Travolta and Uma Thurman flirt gorgeously through a haze of cigarette smoke as long as it drifts through all the right
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