Open Mic: Quitting Cig Ads

From the Publisher

Readers, Advertisers, Distribution Partners & Staff,

I would like to thank those of you who have reached out to share your dismay and concern about the recent full-page cigarette ads that shocked you. 

I communicated with the outreach of callers and letters, some were anonymous but I called you back anyway, as you were kind enough to speak your voice. At first, most were surprised I took the time to call back. As we spoke further, everyone was sincere and honest with me and said that they were sad, felt bad and some even said running the ads “were the worst of the worst.” Everyone said that they immediately knew why we’d run the ads … but they could not surpass the feelings they were having.

The ads came in from a large agency representing many of the nationwide alternative weeklies. We, the Bohemian and Pacific Sun, have never entertained running significant cigarette campaigns since our ownership decades ago, because they have not presented themselves. So, we thought we’d see what happens. Who doesn’t need a large sum of money now, it’s Covid. In less than two short months, we heard you loud and clear. Because you, our communities of Sonoma, Marin and Napa, are very important to us in so many ways, we have canceled the hefty dual annual advertising order after this week—walking away from two large corporate tobacco campaigns. As painful as it may be, being a free alt-weekly … you matter more.

We will survive without cigarette ads the same as we’ve been publishing every week for decades, because we’re the Boho and PacSun, we’re all of us living our cherished lives in the North Bay! We—our advertisers, readers, distribution partners and staff—are smart and understand the tremendous value of our partnership, no matter what challenges we face.

Here’s to taking the high road, honoring your voice as your trusted media. 

Rosemary Olson, Publisher

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