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Last week, the national anti-smoking group American Legacy Foundation (ALF) dumped 60 “large metal sign displays” outside clubs and restaurants. Conspiracy theories followed: Mark Lee, a nightclub promoter and opponent of the recently defeated D.C. smoking-ban proposal, alerted residents and club owners not to become “victims” of the onslaught, which, he asserted, was taking place “under cover of darkness.” But ALF marketing Vice President for Marketing Chris Cullen insists that the displays had nothing to do with the smoking ban—actually they were ashtrays with ads targeted at people who want to quit smoking. “It’s not like it’s black lungs or scare tactics….We’re just trying to help those millions of D.C. residents who are struggling with tobacco addiction,” Cullen says, adding that his group removed the signs after being told that they were illegal obstructions by the District Department of Transportation. “They weren’t intuitively ashtrays,” Lee maintains.

—Bidisha Banerjee