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TRADE GROUP SEEKS TO SNUFF OUT STOGIES IN MOVIES, ON TV

Neither "Friends" nor alien foes should be paid to light up cigars in movies and on television, the nation's largest cigar trade group has decided.

The cigar industry's practice of paying Hollywood brokers to place cigars in the mouths of popular actors such as Will Smith in "Independence Day" has been attacked by anti-tobacco organizations and some lawmakers.

The board of directors of the Cigar Association of America said in Saturday's Baltimore Sun that it will "admonish" its members to halt the practice. It members produce more than 95 percent of cigars sold in the United States.

Actors smoked cigars in 51 of 133 movies with a domestic box-office draw of at least $5 million in the most recent film survey by the American Lung Association. On television, the cast of the hit show "Friends" puffed away on an episode, and Cybill Shepherd fires up a stogie during a poker game on her show, "Cybill."

The industry's pledge comes as teen-age cigar smoking is rising. In 1996, about 6 million people, ages 14 to 19, reported smoking a cigar the previous year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

The cigar industry action mirrors an action by the Tobacco Institute in 1990, when it announced voluntary restrictions on cigarette companies' marketing practices, including the end of paid tobacco product placements in films.

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