Cancer Number 9: Loathsome and Lethal Blend

R.J. Reynolds' "Barbie Camel"

When R.J. Reynolds (RJR) introduced Camel No. 9 cigarettes in January 2007, it launched a marketing blitz to make smoking appear hip, fashionable and glamorous, with ads and marketing that attract both women and girls.

Dressed to kill in black with pink borders—teal trim for the menthol variety—Camel No. 9's box evokes famous perfumes with its enticing slogan: "Light and luscious."

"Loathsome and lethal" is more like it, and the result can be devastating for women's health.

Take Action Today

RJ Reynolds's aggressive marketing that attracts women and girls demands an equally aggressive response:

Camel No. 9 Ads Target Girls

RJR now says they have temporarily suspended all magazine and newspaper advertising. But there is nothing in place that will forbid them from picking right back up where they left off. And they are still going to be marketing Camel No. 9 cigarettes using other means such as direct mail and events. While RJR claims that Camel No. 9 is meant only for adult women, the ads have run in magazines popular with girls, including Vogue, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire and InStyle. Don't let RJR's PR gestures fool you. Camel No. 9 is still on the market, and the marketing campaign is still attracting young women and girls into a lifetime of disease and addiction.

A list of Camel No. 9's giveaways include items that appeal to girls:

  • Colorful postcard promotions
  • Berry-flavored lip balm
  • Cell phone jewelry
  • Novelty pink and black purses
  • Rhinestone-covered lighters
  • "Rocker Girl" wristbands

Outrageous? See how else RJR's Camel No. 9 is marketing cancer to women and girls.

Newspapers and Columnists Speak out Against Camel No. 9

RJR's Camel No. 9 marketing prompted the Oregonian newspaper to editorialize that having once marketed Joe Camel to kids, RJR is now doing it again with "Barbie Camel." Other respected columnists and newspapers make similar arguments.

Why does this matter?

Cigarette advertising that depicts smoking as glamorous and sexy increases smoking among both women and girls, producing increased deaths from lung cancer (PDF) and cardiovascular disease (PDF).

Like past attempts by tobacco companies, the Camel No. 9 ads equate smoking with glamour, sophistication and beauty while implying that their "light and luscious" flavor is not as risky as regular cigarettes.