George Harrison: Smoker

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George Harrison, the "quiet Beatle" died in December, 200l at age 58. The cause of Mr. Harrison's death a death which clearly by any definition can be characterized as "premature" was cigarette smoking. In their December l0th issues, both Time and Newsweek extensively covered Harrison's death. Coverage noted, among other details, his devotion to the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi but neither magazine mentioned the most critical factor: cigarette smoking as the cause of death. Both magazines carry cigarette ads. The omission of reference to cigarettes is significant and raises the question of whether the magazines' own addiction to cigarette ads is a factor in deleting pejorative references to cigarettes.

On the other hand, People, another magazine replete with cigarette ads, did refer in its obituary to Harrison being a "lifelong smoker." Further, People published a letter to the editor on December 3lst noting "the handsome, younger Beatle with a cigarette in his hand speaks volumes about the product that contributed to his early and untimely demise."

Perhaps the temptation to spike the horrific truth about smoking's impact on life and health varies among publications even among those who rely on cigarette ad revenues.