Several high-profile health groups are firing back at a new Camel cigarette ad campaign that they say targets young people and may violate the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement.
The American Heart Association, American Lung Association and several other groups are asking at least two state attorneys to investigate the ad, which appears in 24 magazines that target young people. The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement, among other measures, prohibits cigarette makers from targeting kids
The ad, appearing in magazines such as Sports illustrated and People, promotes the company's CamelCrush brand, which contains a capsule in the cigarette's filter that, when crushed, releases menthol flavor.
Owned by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, the company is known for its strategic advertising; the brand rose to prominence in the late '80s and early '90s by using its Joe Camel cartoon character as a means to make smoking more attractive to kids. While it has faced several lawsuits over a number of its ads, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. decided in 2007 to suspend its print ads under intense criticism.
Print ads for tobacco are still legal in the United States, but are banned from radio, television and billboards.
Despite the advertising roadblock big tobacco has faced in recent years, many anti-smoking advocates say the multibillion-dollar industry has found a different way to reel in youths.
Critics say menthol-flavored cigarettes appeal to kids because the flavor masks the harsh taste of tobacco smoke. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is studying the effects of menthol flavoring in cigarettes on public health.