Big tobacco agrees to make small change to Ore. ads


A tobacco company has agreed to make it more clear that it is paying for the commercials opposing an increase in Oregon's cigarette tax.

Under federal rules, all political advertising must include a tag line that says who paid for the spot. The tag line on the commercials opposing Measure 50 originally read: "Paid for by Oregonians Against the Blank Check and Reynolds American Inc."

Reynolds American is the parent company of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Oregonians Against the Blank Check is the campaign that it funds.

Revised commercials that started airing Tuesday say they were paid for by Reynolds American and authorized by Oregonians Against the Blank Check.

Supporters of the cigarette tax increase were delighted with the switch.

"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.

At least three stations refused to air the original ad, saying the tag line was not accurate in light of a 1996 Federal Communications Commission ruling that requires on-air financial disclosure.

Cary Jones, manager for KMVU (26) in Medford, said it did not air tobacco-backed ads scheduled for Monday; the station planned to make up the lost time on Tuesday. Mark Metzger, manager for KLSR (34) and sister station KEVU (23) in Eugene, also said the stations will make up time lost.

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 started a $227,000 statewide ad blitz a week ago.

Nelson dismissed the flap as "much ado about nothing."

Measure 50, which is on the November ballot, would boost the cigarette tax by 84.5 cents a pack to extend health care to uninsured children in Oregon.

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