WASHINGTON--A study funded by a $600,000 grant from the National
Cancer Institute shows that for a 5-year period the Weekly
Reader, a newspaper aimed at schoolchildren, may have had
a pro-smoking stance. Since 1991, the weekly has been owned by
K-III Holdings, a subsidiary of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts &
Co., which until last spring was majority owner of RJR Nabisco,
the second largest US tobacco company.
During the period of study, from 1989 to 1994, 68% of the Weekly
Reader's articles on smoking included the tobacco industry's
views, while only 38% included an antismoking message, the University
of California, San Francisco, researchers found. In addition,
Joe Camel, RJR's cartoon mascot, made an appearance in eight of
34 articles studied.