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HEALTH GROUPS TO PROTEST SPONSOR OF VIRGINIA SLIMS TENNIS TOURNAMENT

 HEALTH GROUPS TO PROTEST SPONSOR OF VIRGINIA SLIMS TENNIS TOURNAMENT
 PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- Pro-health groups will gather outside the Philadelphia Civic Center on Sunday, Nov. 15, to protest the sponsor of the Virginia Slims Tennis Tournament -- Philip Morris, Inc. (NYSE: MO).
 Several members will dress in Grim Reaper outfits and chant, "Tennis Yes. Tobacco No!" as spectators file into the Civic Center to see the finals of this premier women's tournament.
 "At a time when women's health issues have moved high on the political agenda, it is appalling that a company would exploit women athletes to help promote an addictive and dangerous drug such as cigarettes," noted Susan Wilson, R.N., spokesperson for the Coalition For A Tobacco Free Pennsylvania.
 Citing statistics, Wilson said women who smoke have markedly increased risks of cancer, heart disease, emphysema and other diseases and experience additional unique risks during pregnancy and childbearing. Lung cancer in women has increased by nearly 400 percent in the past 20 years and heart disease continues to plague women.
 According to Wilson, in 1968, Philip Morris introduced Virginia Slims cigarettes exclusively targeted to women. Within six years, the percentage of teenage girls who smoked had doubled. Today, more girls smoke than boys. "When it comes to smoking, we have come a long way, but the wrong way, baby," Wilson said.
 Health and Human Services Secretary Louis W. Sullivan, M.D., has repeatedly petitioned tobacco companies to end their sponsorship of sporting events. Tobacco companies have actually accelerated their sponsorship of sports in recent years, spending $100 million a year on these types of promotions. Therefore, Sullivan has asked fans to "boycott" such events to send a message to these companies that promote an addictive product that can only be harmful to health.
 Protestors will hand out to fans "Kiss Me I Don't Smoke" buttons and leaflets that, the coalition said, detail the carnage caused by Philip Morris' lethal products. "It's time to throw tobacco out of sports," said Bill Godshall, an activist for the group called Smoke-Free Pennsylvania. "Philip Morris should be seen for what it is, the deadliest drug pusher!" Godshall claimed.
 The Coalition For A Tobacco Free Pennsylvania is a statewide association of private, government and voluntary health agencies founded in 1980 to reduce tobacco use among Pennsylvanians. The coalition consists of groups such as the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association, Smoke-Free Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Academy of Pediatrics, and the Society of Public Health Educators.
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 /CONTACT: Stephen F. Gambescia of the Coalition For A Tobacco Free Pennsylvania, 215-735-3865, or, home, 215-483-5365/
 (MO) CO: Coalition For A Tobacco Free Pennsylvania; Philip Morris, Inc. ST: Pennsylvania IN: SU:


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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Nov 13, 1992
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