Cigarette, Beer Logos In Games
NEW YORK - Signs advertising Marlboro cigarettes and Budweiser beer are appearing in children's video arcade games, outraging doctors who are trying to reduce smoking by teen-agers.
Sega of America, maker of the games, said the logos' inclusion was ``simply a game designer's innocent attempt to mimic real-life locations.''
One game, Super Monaco GP, includes buildings in which all the windows have been replaced by the Marlboro logo. Other Sega games using the logos are Hang On and Power Drift.
Dave Rosen, co-chairman of Sega's board, said in the statement that ``there is absolutely no form of paid or intentional advertising displayed in any of Sega's arcade or consumer video games.''
The company said it was removing the logos.
Philip Morris, which makes Marlboro cigarettes, and Anheuser Busch, the maker of Budweiser, said they had not authorized the use of their brand names or logos. Philip Morris has asked Sega to recall the games.
Tobacco companies have been known to pay large sums for mention of their products. Philip Morris, for example, paid $350,000 for the placement of Lark cigarettes in the James Bond film ``License to Kill,'' released last summer.
``Super Monaco GP is essentially one big Marlboro ad,'' said Dr. John Richards of the Medical College of Georgia, who has investigated the video logos.
``A child playing Super Monaco GP is exposed to literally hundreds of Marlboro ads during the game, if he's good,'' Richards, president of Doctors Ought to Care, an anti-smoking group, wrote last month in a letter of complaint to the Federal Trade Commission.
The commission, which regulates advertising, wouldn't say whether it was investigating the practice.
Smoking kills 390,000 Americans each year, and 90 percent of smokers start in their teens, said Dr. Ronald Davis, director of the Office on Smoking and Health of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
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