Letter: Cigarette ads — really?

Graphic by Lori Deaton

I haven’t read a copy of Mountain Xpress since the pandemic started back in March because the local store I used to get it at no longer carried it. Today I happened to find a copy in my local library.

Imagine my shock and utter dismay to find two full-page ads for cigarettes. I can’t remember how many years or perhaps decades it’s been since I’ve seen a print ad for cigarettes. I actually thought it was illegal to promote these now well-known hazardous products. Guess I’m more out of the loop than I thought.

I’m guessing ad revenues are down, but are they this bad that you have to resort to accepting ads for cigarettes? This is 2020, not the 1950s, and we all know cigarettes are hazardous to health and a scourge that ultimately kills. I can’t wrap my mind around why Xpress would even consider giving space to promote such life-defying products.

I find it incongruous that Xpress’ community-minded, health and wellness articles are supported by advertising products that are inimical to a long and healthy life. Just makes no sense.

I’m disappointed in you, Mountain Xpress, and know you can do better. Please do so and get out of the cigarette advertising business. At this point I’m disinclined to ever read your paper again.

— Joan Engelhardt
Black Mountain

Editor’s response: We’re glad you picked up a free copy of Xpress, and we’re sorry to disappoint you. However, advertising still brings in more than 90% of our revenue, though we are grateful for reader support and encouraged by the growth of that income stream this year. We’ve still had to cut costs by laying off staff, reducing the issue size and operating on a much smaller budget this year. Meanwhile, tobacco ads are indeed legal and do contain disclaimers and warnings. Also, advertisements in Xpress do not indicate an endorsement of the product or service. We would also note that —  as a community newspaper whose job it is to reflect the Asheville area and present different points of view — it’s unlikely that everyone will agree with or support everything in Xpress. With that in mind, we hope you’ll continue reading the articles you find useful and patronize the businesses you like.



Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

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4 thoughts on “Letter: Cigarette ads — really?

  1. Charlie

    Don’t count on anything or anyone to stand up for ethics and integrity anymore. $$$’s will win 99% of the time.

    • G Man

      I fail to see how this is a matter of ethics and/or integrity. Advertisers keep this publication afloat and if there were any ethics or integrity to be pointed out it would be the ethics of allowing all advertisers fair access to the medium. It is not the place of any publisher to make decisions for the public about what products should be allowed to advertise or what opinions should be allowed to be expressed.

      Your view seems to be quite the opposite of reality and it is scary. This country has spent many years promoting the idea of “open for business” meaning that you cannot discriminate among your clientele based on your own personal morals or beliefs.

      • Lou

        Right and I see your point but why dangle the cancerous carrot? Apparently a lot of people in this country behave in ways that are counterintuitive to common sense. Recognizing that and refusing to cooperate inside that toxic place is the right thing to do. THAT is integrity.

  2. Godslayer

    Then why don’t you “woke” folks step up and buy some advertising to keep this publication afloat? Put you money where your big fat mouths are. You could even take out a two-page ad saying “Racism Sucks.”

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