Sports fans should use the "language of money" to get tobacco companies to stop sponsoring sporting events, Health and Human Services Secretary Louis Sullivan said in an anti-smoking blast that came just short of using the word boycott.
His plea to the tobacco industry a year ago to withdraw from direct sponsorship of sporting events "fell on indifferent ears," he said Wednesday. Now "it is up to our citizens to provide the incentive.""As individuals, Americans can send a message to the tobacco companies in the only language they appear to understand - the language of money," Sullivan told a conference on smokeless tobacco in Columbus, Ohio. Copies of his speech were released in Washington.
"The message is that we will no longer financially support promoters of sporting events and others who would encourage our children to use addictive substances which will ruin their health and send them to an early grave," Sullivan added.
He did not use the word "boycott," nor did his spokesman, Campbell Gardett, when asked about the address.
"He's calling on all people to recognize that when a sporting event is sponsored by a tobacco company, that event is being used to promote tobacco use and he's asking them to make the decision as to whether they want to support that kind of promotion," Gardett said.
He said Sullivan does not attend sporting events sponsored by tobacco companies.
Sullivan also urged public and private institutions not to allow their facilities to be used for tobacco company-sponsored events.