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R.J. Reynolds Continues to Market to Kids, Oppose Policies to Reduce Smoking

April 24, 2006

Washington, DC — The tobacco companies never miss an opportunity to claim they are reformed and no longer want kids to smoke. But their actions continue to show otherwise. For example, the most recent actions by the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, the company that once marketed cigarettes to kids with the cartoon character Joe Camel, are as egregious as ever. In the past two years, R.J. Reynolds has with increasing frequency introduced youth-oriented marketing campaigns and has stepped up their efforts around the country to defeat proven measures to reduce smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke, such as cigarette tax increases and smoke-free workplace laws.

What has the current R.J. Reynolds been doing?

  • This year, Reynolds is promoting a new version of its Camel brand, called Camel Wides, with hip bar parties that feature graffiti artists. (see images)
  • In December 2005, state Attorneys General exposed an R.J. Reynolds promotion called 'Drinks on Us' in which Reynolds mailed customers celebrating their birthdays a promotional package that contained six drink coasters and promoted excessive drinking. (see images)
  • In a marketing ploy introduced since the 1998 state tobacco settlement, Reynolds continues to market candy-flavored cigarettes that are clearly aimed at children. (see images)
  • In January 2005, more than 10 years after tobacco executives refused to acknowledge under oath to Congress that their products cause disease, R.J. Reynolds' chief executive officer Andrew Schindler, once again under oath in a federal court, refused to acknowledge that smoking causes disease.

R.J. Reynolds' marketing behavior led the U.S. Department of Justice in 2005 to call the company a 'serial violator' of the 1998 state tobacco settlement. State attorneys general have sued R.J. Reynolds numerous times for violating the settlement's prohibition on marketing to children. R.J. Reynolds' efforts to defeat public policies that have been proven to reduce tobacco use are equally egregious. For example:

  • In South Carolina, R.J. Reynolds used free alcohol, free cigarettes and scantily clad young women to lure South Carolina bar customers into signing a petition opposing an increase in the state's lowest in the nation cigarette tax.
  • R.J. Reynolds recently sought to join a lawsuit before the Delaware Supreme Court to kill the highly successful truth® youth anti-smoking marketing campaign conducted by the American Legacy Foundation.
  • R.J. Reynolds is leading the fight to defeat a proposed cigarette tax hike increase in Texas and a proposed statewide smoke-free workplace law in Ohio. It has also fought other smoke-free laws and cigarette tax increases across the country.

In fact, R.J. Reynolds has become increasingly desperate in its efforts to defeat cigarette tax increases, smoke-free workplace laws and other tobacco prevention measures because a growing number of states and communities have adopted these measures and are enjoying the many health and financial benefits that result from them. Dating back to 2002, 41 states have increased cigarette taxes, more than doubling the average state cigarette tax from 43.4 cents to 91.7 cents a pack. Thirteen states, Washington, DC and Puerto Rico have now passed strong smoke-free laws that include restaurants and bars, as have hundreds of cities and countries. These measures are proven to reduce smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke, thereby improving health, saving lives and saving billions of dollars in tobacco-caused health care costs. Only the tobacco industry's bottom line suffers.

View a list of the most egregious examples of R.J. Reynolds' harmful actions since the 1998 state tobacco settlement.