Anti-smokers fault tour sponsors

December 11, 1990|By Alisa Samuels | Alisa Samuels,Evening Sun Staff

The chained, 15-foot statue is a look-alike of the Statue of Liberty, except for a cigarette in her raised right hand and a giant pack of cigarettes under her left arm.

"This is Lady Nicotina," said T.R. Neslund, executive director for the International Commission for the Prevention of Alcoholism and Drug Dependency. "Nicotine is the drug that addicts you; that's what puts you in slavery."

Lady Nicotina stood outside the Convention Center yesterday as anti-smokers protested the sponsorship of the Bill of Rights tour by Philip Morris Co. Inc., the nation's largest cigarette manufacturer. A plastic bag containing a year's supply of cigarettes for an average smoker sat at the bottom of the $10,000 statue.

The Bill of Rights exhibit opened here Sunday. On opening day, 3,000 people saw the 15,000-square-foot, multimedia, high-tech exhibit, which features an original copy of the document. More than 1,500 people walked through the exhibit yesterday.

After the free exhibition completes its stay in Baltimore today, it moves on to Morristown, N.J. Eventually, the 16-month tour is to cover all 50 states.

Taggarty Patrick, a spokeswoman for Philip Morris, which also makes gelatin desserts, powdered drinks and cheeses, said the exhibit has drawn 140,000 people at stops so far on the 26,163-mile tour and 3 million Americans have called a toll-free number for a replica of the Bill of Rights.

Yesterday, outside the center where the stature was unveiled, Neslund said Philip Morris has pumped $60 million into the tour, using "a smoke screen" of patriotism and altruism and "deceptive slogans and advertising tricks of the trade" to continue to sell its tobacco products and recruit new smokers, mainly children.

"The underlying interest is to increase the millions of dollars in revenue from criminal tobacco sales to Maryland children each year," he said.

Inside the exhibit, Patrick denied the charges.

She said the tour has nothing to do with promoting the company's products, but instead "is a celebration" of the 200th anniversary of the Bill of Rights, which was ratified Dec. 15, 1791.

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