Kids Cable Channel to Spotlight 'Smoking Parents' By Dover Smeed CNSNews.com Satire June 20, 2002 One of the most popular kids channels on cable television is scheduled to broadcast a news special about children living in homes with parents who smoke cigarettes, cigars and pipes. The program 'Coming Out of the Haze,' which will feature a group of teenagers and other in-studio guests, will be aired on The Cartoon Network July 10. Producers for the program say guests will include Phillip Morris Chairman Geoffrey Bible, actor Peter Faulk and Margaret Binder, principal of Walter Raleigh Middle School in Charlotte, North Carolina. A videotape presentation featuring the late George Burns will also be included in the broadcast. The video of Burns, the cigar-wielding star of vaudeville and early radio, was made in 1995, one year before his death at the age of 100. Cartoon Network spokesman Andrew Tupperdor said the half-hour special is designed to "open a dialog among kids about families that are different from each other," and raise awareness of the need for tolerance of children from homes in which the parents smoke. An estimated 24 percent of American adults smoke, according to the Centers for Disease Control. "This is an issue that merits discussion," said Tupperdor. "We need to move the ball downfield and raise the level of discussion." But some anti-smoking advocates are voicing their concerns over the show and are organizing efforts to prevent the news show from being seen. The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids argues the program is just another way of promoting cigarette use by youngsters. "This is nothing more than a propagandizing puff piece designed to steer kids toward tobacco use," said Emily Viceroy, communications director for the group. Similar concerns were voiced by The Wayne Campaign, another anti-smoking organization named for actor John Wayne, who died of cancer in 1979. "The last thing we need is to send kids the message that smoking is something to be tolerated or understood as anything other than dangerous," said Lorena Julianne, senior vice president of public affairs for the Wayne Campaign, formerly known as Cigarette Control, Inc. Julianne said Wayne Campaign members were organizing a petition drive to prevent the show from being broadcast and had collected more than 100,000 signatures. "These are 100,000 concerned parents who are making a statement against the Cartoon Network's misguided plans to further expose kids to the dangers of smoking," said Julianne. Tupperdor said the network had received some correspondence on the program, which was filmed in New York June 20. "Most of the letters we've received have been entirely positive about this news program," he said. "Like us, these people understand how important it is to explore this issue." The program is being produced by the McMurray Project, which is dedicated to "exploration and discourse on tobacco and other plant-related issues." Executive Producer Chip Demarest said the topic would be presented "in a thoughtful and constructive manner that's sensitive to the delicate nature of the subject." "All we're saying is that kids raised by loving, caring, tobacco-using parents deserve to be heard and shouldn't be subject to hate just because of the family they come from," said Demarest. But Viceroy thinks the show has a different agenda, one designed to desensitize children to smoking and recruit new smokers. "They preach tolerance, but they're selling death," said Viceroy. "Our fear is that kids will be fooled by this smoke screen and tempted to experiment with tobacco." Demarest defended the show and rejected accusations of trying to recruit young smokers. "This is not a show about smoking," said Demarest. "This is a show about tolerance and ending the hate."