RJ Reynolds Adjusts Anti-Healthy Kids Ad

As you may recall, an advertisement opposing Healthy Kids and sponsored by RJ Reynolds ran into opposition yesterday when several stations refused to air the ad. Today, the Oregonian reports that the advertisement has now been altered to accurately reflect its big tobacco sponsors.

Under pressure from several television stations, Reynolds American has changed two on-air ads opposing a cigarette tax increase to make it more explicit to voters that the tobacco company is paying for the campaign.

Under federal rules, all political advertising must include a tag line that says who paid for the ad. The tag line on the commercials originally read: "Paid for by Oregonians Against the Blank Check and Reynolds American Inc." The revised commercials, which started airing Tuesday, say they were paid for by Reynolds American, the parent company of R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., and authorized by Oregonians Against the Blank Check, the campaign that's funded entirely by the cigarette maker.

At least three stations, in Medford and in Eugene, refused to air the commercials Monday, saying the original tag line was not accurate in light of a 1996 Federal Communications Commission ruling that requires on-air financial disclosure. The broadcasters association agreed.

The change to the deceiving tag line is a win for Healthy Kids supporters:

The tax measure's supporters, who call themselves the "Healthy Kids" coalition, painted the victory as more evidence of tobacco companies' deceitful campaign tactics.

"Big Tobacco is trying to make it sound as if somebody else in Oregon is standing alongside them," said Cathy Kaufmann, spokeswoman for the campaign.

Reynolds American has contributed more than $1.7 million to Oregonians Against the Blank Check, which is headed by Mark Nelson, the tobacco company's chief lobbyist in Salem. The campaign launched a $227,000 statewide ad blitz a week ago.

Read the rest. It's good to see big tobacco's misleading tactics fail.


  • (Show?)

    Which is funny, because I swear I saw the anti-Measure 50 ad on KDRV last night or the night before (Monday or Tuesday night) as it was before with the origional tag line. One reason I remember is that within one commercial (I believe there was a car dealership commercial in between) the pro-Measure 50 ad aired.

  • An Inquiring Mind (unverified)

    Dan Meek had an excellent comment yesterday that I haven't heard an answer to yet.

    "The requirement that broadcast political ads identify their sponsor is an FCC rule. There are no Oregon laws requiring that a political ad disclose who wrote it or who paid for it...."

    Is this true? Even the story above notes that "federal rules require" but doesn't provide an explanation as to why federal rules apply to a state initiative and/or referral?

  • Different Salem Staffer (unverified)

    Is this true? Yes, this is true.

    The Federal Elections Commission can't impose such rules on state races because it's simply not their job description to tinker with non-federal races.

    However, the FCC runs the airwaves and as such, gets to impose any TV-related rules it likes, including governing Superbowl halftime shows, ads for pharmaceuticals, maximum commercial time during cartoons, and rules for political ads.

    So even though the FEC doesn't play in local races, the FCC plays in anything on TV... and requires political ads to display their "paid for by" info for a full 4 seconds and the statement must be at least 4% high as the TV screen.

    'Course, Oregon's very-broad free speech traditions mean that it's not necessary to say who paid for something that doesn't make use of any public commodity (i.e: the airwaves). So newapaper ads, direct mail, blogs, billboards, etc... in Oregon it is not necessary to say who paid for these things, but the court has decided that it is unacceptable to provide false information as to who sponsored them.

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    "Is this true? Even the story above notes that "federal rules require" but doesn't provide an explanation as to why federal rules apply to a state initiative and/or referral?"

    <h2>As is noted above, even though it's not an Oregon law, the FCC regulates tv broadcasts in all 50 states, and they have specific regulations that pertain to advertising for political issues as well as elections. Take a look at Section 73.1212, Clauses d, e, and f if you want to see the exact rules themselves.</h2>
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