Excerpts from "the first rough draft of history" as reported in The Washington Post on this date in the 20th century.
Smoking was becoming a hot issue in the late 60s. In 1966, cigarette manufacturers were required to place warnings on their packaging, and the U.S surgeon general started releasing annual warnings on the hazards of smoking. Though legislation banning cigarette advertising on radio and TV was proposed in 1969, it was not until 1971 that the ban became law. After CBS offered to ban cigarette advertising in 1969, NBC and ABC announced they would not, dooming the idea. Cigarette advertising still appears in print, though many publications have voluntarily chosen not to accept those ads. An excerpt from The Post of August 11, 1969:
The Columbia Broadcasting System agreed today to release cigarette advertisers from their contracts for radio and television commercials at the end of this year.
But CBS President Frank Stanton charged that halting cigarette advertising in the broadcast industry but not in the print media would "arbitrarily discriminate against radio and television" without guaranteeing any decrease in overall expenditures for cigarette advertising.
The American Broadasting Company had rejected the proposal two days earlier, saying it could not risk giving up millions of dollars in revenues on "short notice."
The National Broadcasting Company has not yet announced its position.
The networks were asked by Sen. Frank E. Moss (D-Utah) to cancel smoking commercials contracts after the Tobacco Institute agreed to voluntarily halt the industry's radio and television ads Dec. 31.
A Senate subcommittee headed by Moss has been studying legislation to restrict cigarette advertising because of health hazards associated with smoking.
Stanton said in a letter to Moss that CBS has consistently maintained "Congress must be the final arbiter" of the cigarette advertising question.
Therefore, he said, if Congress enacts legislation to make the tobacco industry agreement against broadcast advertising legal under antitrust laws, "CBS will release the cigarette advertisers from their commitments."
But Stanton questioned whether this would be in the public interest.
"If the public interest should require legislation in this area, should not the legislation deal with the problem as a whole and not direct its restraints only against the television and radio media?" he asked.
Even if NBC joins CBS in accepting the Dec. 31 halt, it was doubtful that the plan would go into effect without the cooperation of ABC. A tobacco industry source said Friday it was an all-or-nothing offer.
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