Inspired by the pioneering efforts of Washington, DC attorney John Banzhaf III in the late-1960s to oppose cigarette commercials on TV, Ron Bloomberg, who owned an advertising agency in Philadelphia, contacted Banzhaf to offer assistance. Banzhaf asked him to write an advertisement that was published in The Washington Post calling on Congress to ban cigarette ads on TV and radio. This interview explores the back story of the ad ban and the circumvention of the ban by the tobacco companies, such as through the sponsorship of televised sporting events. Bloomberg moved to Los Angeles to become a writer for television shows including “All in the Family.” In the 1970s, he was a syndicated TV and radio sports commentator and, several of his pieces were critical of tobacco sponsorship of sports. He has also written a play, “The Queen of Madison Avenue,” about Mary Wells Lawrence, the first woman to head a major advertising agency. A good part of the agency’s success was due to her acceptance of the Benson & Hedges cigarette account at a time when other ad agencies were rethinking the wisdom of promoting cigarettes.
A Plea To Every Member of Congress
Written by Ron Bloomberg for Legislative Action on Smoking and Health
The Washington Post
June 16, 1969