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"I don't believe there is a double standard."

---Air Force General Joseph Ralston, bowing out of consideration for the nation's top military post, even though Defense Secretary William Cohen said his past adultery wouldn't matterEDITED BY LARRY LIGHTReturn to top

A PEACE PIPE IN THE TOBACCO WARS?

THE TOBACCO INDUSTRY, IN talks with health advocates and state officials to settle its liability woes, was unbending a year ago on curbing sales activities. But it now appears ready to yield in many areas, says William Novelli, president of the National Center for Tobacco-Free Kids, who is involved in the talks. Spokesmen for the tobacco side decline to comment.

Novelli says tobacco-industry negotiators seem willing to accept a ban on cigarette vending machines, a requirement that tobacco products be placed behind sales counters, and a licensing system for all tobacco sellers. The pact taking shape could also end billboards and display signs for cigarettes such as those in store windows.

Other provisions, he says, include industry agreement to smoking restrictions in public places, and payment of stiff penalties if youth smoking is not reduced over time.

Such a list doesn't mollify other advocates, who say such concessions would see the industry demanding restrictions on regulating nicotine and protection against suits. And still unclear is how much the companies would be willing to pay to compensate smoking-related cancer victims.Susan Garland EDITED BY LARRY LIGHTReturn to top

NICOTINE FIT FOR REGULAR GUYS

FIRST CAME ADDITIVE-FREE food. Now comes additive-free tobacco, a pitch that has industry critics up in arms. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco is rolling out the no-additive approach for its revamped Winston brand along with a high-powered advertising drive called "No Bull."

The print and billboard campaign--estimated at $25 million-plus by Morgan Stanley--aims to find a compelling image for RJR's No.2 cig brand (Doral is No.1). Some ads show beer-swilling regular guys who like "real" tobacco. Over the past year, Winston's market share fell from 5.3% to 4.9%, with a domestic volume drop of 11%. One reason is Winston lacks a clear identity, RJR figures.

The new Winstons have forsaken all flavor enhancers such as cocoa, sugar, and licorice. Are the paper and filter without additives, too? Winston marketing veep Ned Leary says only they're making "no claims" about that.

The practice of removing nicotine and putting it back again doesn't constitute an additive, Winston says, and antismoking groups agree. But John Banzhaf, head of Action on Smoking and Health, finds the ads "misleading" by duping consumers into thinking they're less hazardous than other butts.Lisa Sanders EDITED BY LARRY LIGHTReturn to top

NOMURA MAY SHOW A CASH COW THE GATE

NOMURA SECURITIES IS eyeing a spin-off of its red-hot U.S. commercial real estate finance division, headed by whiz kid Ethan Penner. The 36-year-old Penner built Nomura Securities International's real estate business from scratch to where it generates about a third of NSI's pretax profits--some $315 million in the fiscal year ended Mar. 31. As a result, sources close to the firm say, he made $46 million for the year, one of Wall Street's fattest paychecks. Penner won't comment about his pay.

He and his employer have spent the past year trying to negotiate an amicable spin-off of the 175-person unit, sources say, with Nomura retaining an estimated one-third interest. NSI has talked to financiers Sam Zell and Nelson Peltz about buying the unit, which could be valued at as much as $1.5 billion, sources say. An IPO is also under consideration.

Penner is anxious to be more independent while the Nomura parent in Tokyo may want to exit real estate entirely, the sources say. It recently had to pump in $3.6 billion to bail out a real estate subsidiary in Japan. Says spokesman P..J. Johnson: "As good businessmen, we consider all options."Leah Nathans Spiro EDITED BY LARRY LIGHTReturn to top


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