- Anti-tobacco group says cigarette campaign not cool (FCN, 05-02-2004)
CHICAGO (FinalCall.com) – An agreement between 39 attorneys general and the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. will make it “virtually impossible” for the tobacco giant to market flavored cigarettes to youths, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced at a recent press conference.
Reynolds agreed to ban sales in the U.S. of its Camel, Kool and Salem flavored cigarettes that include Camel Exotic Blends, Salem Silver and Kool Smooth Fusions. The agreement ends an investigation into possible violations by Reynolds that prohibited the company from targeting minors for cigarette sales as set forth in a 1998 Master Settlement Agreement between 46 states and major cigarette manufacturers.
Reynolds also agreed to marketing and distribution restrictions that will apply to cigarettes manufactured in the future that have a flavor other than tobacco or menthol.
“Eliminating tobacco use by children is one of our greatest public health challenges and one of my highest priorities,” Ms. Madigan announced. “This agreement helps us take a significant step toward reaching that goal. I will continue to vigorously respond to any effort by the tobacco industry to target children as a way to ‘grow’ new smokers.”
Kwesi Ron Harris, prevention director of the Bobby E. Wright Health Center, where the press conference was held, called for anti-tobacco activists to remain vigilant in their efforts to stop tobacco companies from targeting young people for their products.
“What’s easier than taking candy from a baby?” he asked. “Giving candy to a baby. It is our young who are most susceptible to the lures of candy sweetness and fruity and alcoholic flavors in cigarettes–which begs the question, who is the tobacco industry really targeting?”
Mr. Harris is also the national membership chair of the National African American Tobacco Prevention Network (NAATPN), a group that led the attack against the Kool Mixx campaign that the network said targeted Black youth with its hip hop images on packaging and promotions, CD ROMs and Kool-sponsored events with a hip hop lure.
That effort spurred attorneys-general from New York, Maryland and Illinois to file suits against the Brown & Williamson Tobacco Co., the maker of Kool cigarettes, which has since merged with R.J. Reynolds. An agreement for $1.46 million was reached out of court.
Mr. Harris said the latest agreement is important for the Black community because 47,000 Blacks die annually from tobacco use.
“There are absolutely no benefits of any kind associated with the use of tobacco. It only produces disease, death and destruction,” he said.
Joining the press conference were the American Heart Association, American Lung Association, National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, and Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, among other groups.
“Flavored cigarettes were simply a ploy to sell tobacco to our youth,” said Joel Africk, president and CEO of the American Lung Association of Metropolitan Chicago. “Thankfully, today’s settlement brings an end to that shameful practice.”