Singers vs. cigarettes

An extra round of applause, ladies and gentlemen, for James Taylor and Peter, Paul and Mary.

They objected to the association of their entertainment with cigarette advertising by a tobacco company contributing money to a series of summer benefit concerts on Boston Common. The company withdrew its sponsorship, and the concerts are to begin Monday as scheduled, with hopes of obtaining substitute funding.

Ever since the ban on broadcast cigarette advertising a decade ago, cigarette makers have sought other ways to promote the smoking habit. They have attached their brand names to sports events and jazz festivals, for example, advertising cigarettes in the guise of advertising something else.

The trend is bad enough in a private sector where some elements are willing to ignore the public interest and go to the limits that the law allows.

It is worse when public space and city sponsorship are involved, as in the Boston Common concerts.

There ought to be no hint of official sanction for products that are officially warned against.

Budget-blasted cities understandably look for money anywhere they can find it. But sometimes a line has to be drawn, and the public must hope that the entertainers in the present instance will not be the last to remind sponsors of that fact.

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