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  • 'Truth' takes shots at tobacco's friendly face
  • Terrorism spawns two new specialty license tag designs
  • Divided, not done
  • Bush keeps low profile, draws criticism
  • Veterans fume over THAP chief's reports
  • Budget cuts called a 'short-term fix'

  • From the state wire

  • Hurricane Jeanne appears on track to hit Florida's east coast
  • Rumor mill working overtime after Florida hurricanes
  • Developments associated with Hurricanes Ivan and Jeanne
  • Four killed in Panhandle plane crash were on Ivan charity mission
  • Hurricane Frances caused estimated $4.4 billion in insured damage
  • Disabled want more handicapped-accessible voting machines
  • USF forces administrators to resign over test score changes
  • Man's death at Universal Studios ruled accidental
  • State child welfare workers in Miami fail to do background checks
  • Hurricane Jeanne heads toward southeast U.S. coast
  • Hurricane Jeanne spurs more anxiety for storm-weary Floridians
  • Mistrial declared in case where teen was target of racial "joke"
  • Panhandle utility wants sewer plant moved to higher ground
  • State employee arrested on theft, bribery charges
  • Homestead house fire kills four children, one adult
  • Pierson leader tries to cut off relief to local fern cutters
  • Florida's high court rules Terri's law unconstitutional
  • Jacksonville students punished for putting stripper pole in dorm
  • FEMA handling nearly 600,000 applications for help
  • Man who killed wife, niece, self also killed mother in 1971
  • Producer sues city over lead ball fired by Miami police
  • Tourism suffers across Florida after pummeling by hurricanes
  • Key dates in the life of Terri Schiavo
  • An excerpt from the unanimous ruling in the Schiavo case
  • Four confirmed dead after small plane crash in Panhandle
  • Correction: Disney-Cruise Line story

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    'Truth' takes shots at tobacco's friendly face

    A singing corpse. A wink at death, a nod at cancer. The new spot spoofs big tobacco's charitable ads.

    ©Associated Press

    © St. Petersburg Times,
    published October 31, 2001

    ORLANDO -- The Florida Department of Health is releasing a new antismoking commercial that spoofs Philip Morris' recent ads highlighting the company's charitable acts.

    The new ad, titled "Focus on the Positive," features a singing corpse, dancing tobacco executives and lyrics such as "Every eight seconds a smoker dies -- it's becoming routine! But let's stay focused on the positive. Those seven seconds in between."

    A two-minute version of the commercial starts airing Thursday in 40 AMC movie theaters around Florida. A one-minute cut will be aired in Florida television markets and on MTV and BET starting Friday. The commercial cost $618,000 to make and will run through the end of December.

    The commercial is part of the Health Department's "truth" advertising campaign created from an $11.3-billion settlement with tobacco companies.

    The minimusical opens with teens questioning tobacco executives about tobacco products. The executives then burst into song and dance, telling the teens to "focus on the positive."

    "So what if they removed a lung?" a tobacco executive sings to a patient in an operating room. "You shouldn't be depressed."

    "It's really for the best," adds a nurse.

    "It's something off your chest," a teen sings.

    Others then sing: "And yes we know that tobacco causes cancer of the bladder! It doesn't really matter -- they make diapers for adults!"

    The campaign is a takeoff on a Philip Morris Companies Inc. advertising campaign that focuses on the company's charitable contributions for college scholarships and free meals. A subsidiary, Philip Morris USA, is the nation's leading cigarette manufacturer.

    Philip Morris USA spokesman Tom Ryan said the company supports efforts to curb youth smoking and that the commercial ignores the fact that the company recently has publicized the health problems caused by smoking.

    "It certainly is funny, but unfortunately it's not true," Ryan said of the commercial. "We're committed to dealing with the complex and controversial issues related to cigarettes."

    The company's Web site has a section called "Health Issues for Smokers" that states, "We agree with the overwhelming medical and scientific consensus that cigarette smoking causes lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema and other serious diseases in smokers."

    The Health Department also will place promotional materials tied to the "Focus on the Positive" campaign in movie theaters and place billboards in theater lobbies. A "truth" truck also will visit participating movie theaters. Teens will be able to play video games and receive free T-shirts in the truck's lounge.

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