City officials may be indifferent to certain kinds of smoke in the Haight, but not so when it comes to marketing cigarettes using pictures of the iconic neighborhood.
City Attorney Dennis Herrera and Public Health Director Mitch Katz sent a letter Monday to R.J. Reynolds asking the tobacco company to cancel its “Break Free Adventure” marketing campaign for Camel cigarettes, saying the ads are geared toward children in violation of a 1998 settlement agreement between state governments and six tobacco companies.
“This 10-city adventure game shamelessly appeals to youth by featuring cities, including San Francisco, that are associated with independent music, trendiness, rebellion and freedom” Herrera and Katz write.
Other campaign “stops” include Route 66, Las Vegas, Austin, Texas, and Brooklyn, N.Y.
“San Francisco does not want its cultural icons like the Haight to be exploited to promote the idea that youth can ‘evolve, revolve or revolt and the follow the force to break free’ by smoking Camels,” the city’s letter says.
David Howard, a spokesman for R.J. Reynolds, said he couldn’t comment on the specifics in the letter but insisted the marketing campaign targeted adults.
He noted the website for the campaign is password protected, and viewers have to enter their birth date before gaining access. Marketing is sent directly to consumers who are adults who have agreed to receive tobacco materials, and the packs themselves are sold behind the counter, Howard said.
– John Coté
A gift audit: You may remember that odd, on-air physical confrontation in May between KGO-TV’s Dan Noyes and Laguna Honda spokesman Marc Slavin over the investigative reporter’s contentions the hospital was using donations intended for patient care for gourmet meals and airline tickets for staff. The two ended up in a bit of a face-off.
Now the controller’s office has weighed in with a new report that found “due to insufficient monitoring and oversight,” the hospital recorded $151,739 in donations as intended for staff use even though the money wasn’t explicitly intended for staff. The hospital also didn’t involve the Health Commission in monitoring its fund, valued at $835,307 as of June 30, and let the money sit in accounts unmanaged.
The report found that the fund was set up to pay for field trips and cultural activities for patients and to buy them items like toiletries, clothing, books and computers. A staff gift fund was intended for meals at staff retreats, small gifts to reward exemplary service and subscriptions to trade journals.
The hospital has since separated the two, and has vowed to make changes recommended by the controller’s office.
Mitch Katz, director of the Health Department, said the $151,739 in question was long ago returned to the patients gift fund and none of it was misspent. He said bookkeeping practices can certainly be improved, but that he feels vindicated by the report.
“It proves what we have said from day one – that not a single nickel of patient money was spent on anything but patients,” he said.
– Heather Knight
Kid friendly: Builders who want to use city money to expand or construct buildings in San Francisco should explore the feasibility of including day care, the Board of Supervisor’s Land Use and Development Committee said Monday.
San Francisco suffers a critical shortage of child care that drives many hard-working families out of the city, said Supervisor Bevan Dufty, co-author of the legislation. Asking developers to examine how they can include room for babysitting will keep the need for those facilities on the top of their minds, he said.
“It’s been depressing to see child care as an afterthought when it really should be a forethought,” he said.
The resolution requires that any city agency that plans to construct, lease or alter more than 50 percent of a building to complete a study. Any private developer that receives city funds for their project must do the same.
The legislation has the support of Mardi Lucich, the city’s child care administrator.
“Working families need access to child care in order to focus on their work,” she said.
The proposed ordinance is expected to go to the full board Dec. 7.
– Will Kane