States Challenge RJ Reynolds Cigarette Ads

Alleging that RJR is illegally marketing Cigarettes to youth through a current advertising campaign. In her action, Illinois Attorney General Lisa...

Attorneys general from 8 states have filed a motion against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. (RJR) alleging that RJR is illegally marketing Cigarettes to youth through a current advertising campaign. In her action, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan moves to hold RJR in contempt for violating the 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA). That agreement, which the tobacco industry signed to end the national tobacco litigation, expressly prohibits the use of cartoons to advertise or promote Cigarettes. The motion challenges RJR's publication of a nine-page ad in the Nov. 15 issue of Rolling Stone magazine. The advertisement uses cartoon characters to promote Camel Cigarettes. The motion also challenges RJR's use of a cartoon-filled film advertisement at a November 21 concert that RJR sponsoRed at a Chicago nightclub. “RJR continues to use its advertisements to lure young people into a deathly habit that remains the number one preventable cause of death in the United States,” Madigan said. Merchants of death “Just when the merchants of death are no longer on your television and on the giant outdoor billboards passed on the way to and from school, you now can find them in the publications so popular with your children,” said “Kwesi” Ronald Harris, tobacco control advocate and member, Partnership for a Smoke-Free Illinois. “Big tobacco and its vast financial resources are skilled at injecting ads into popular culture,” he added. “By utilizing popular captions, comics and cartoon-like images all promoting youth interest, they've once again mounted their attack, using sometimes subtle themes. The tobacco industry still seeks to seduce our children into the dangerous use of their products.” Madigan's motion asks the Circuit Court to hold RJR in contempt and to fine the cigarette maker More than $6.5 million. Madigan also is asking the court to issue a temporary restraining order to keep RJR from showing the cartoon-filled advertising at two concerts that RJR is sponsoring in Chicago later this month. “The Camel ads in Rolling Stone magazine are a blatant and egregious attempt to market Cigarettes to children and circumvent the Master Settlement Agreement. If R.J. Reynolds and Rolling Stone are allowed to get away with this type of advertising, it will undermine the MSA's entire ban on these cartoon characters to market Cigarettes,” said Matthew Myers, president, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. Other states The attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington have filed similar actions in their respective state courts, collectively asking for tens of millions of dollars in penalties against RJR for violating the terms of the MSA. The 1998 MSA settled claims against the tobacco companies, including allegations that the tobacco companies intentionally marketed Cigarettes to children and hid Cigarettes' addictive qualities and damaging health effects. It created a broad array of restrictions on the advertising, marketing and promotion of Cigarettes. For example, it prohibits the targeting of youth and the use of cartoons in cigarette advertising. It also includes prohibitions on outdoor advertising of Cigarettes and the advertising of Cigarettes in public transit facilities, as well as the use of cigarette brand names on merchandise.

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