Sean Penn and American Spirits
in a Vanity Fair feature:
blurring journalism and
cigarette advertising

Tobacco Control 2009;18:333-334; doi:10.1136/tc.2009.030510

R Hanewinkel1, J R Polansky2 and J D Sargent3

Sean Penn is one of the great actors of our time. He is also a heavily addicted smoker, and he uses his real-life smoking to convey independence and rebelliousness. Penn entered the film scene in the early 1980s, and by the mid-1980s, the tobacco industry had identified him as one of the next generation of actors who could be useful in perpetuating the rebel smoker image developed by James Dean and Marlon Brando in the 1950s,1 and perpetuated during the 1960s and 1970s by stars such as John Cassavetes...

American Spirit is a brand of cigarette manufactured in the USA by the Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company (a Reynolds American Subsidiary). For the record, in response to a direct inquiry from the authors, Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company said that, "[W]e do not have any agreement with Mr. Penn or his representatives regarding tobacco products (or anything else), nor have we ever supplied tobacco products to him gratis or at a discount". Santa Fe declined to disclose how much it was spending with Vanity Fair or the Condé Nast publications group "due to the proprietary nature of advertising plans" (Mark Smith, Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA; personal communication). However, the same month, Vanity Fair (USA) carried an American Spirit advertising insert costing $114 000.9 Whether or not money changes hands, feature articles such as these have to be extremely valuable to the industry by tying its product to a celebrity and everything he stands for. And whether or not it is true, such feature articles serve to make a fine actor look like an industry shill.

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Edited 1 time by FreedomNicotine Jul 25 09 9:44 AM.